What I’m Reading: Life Class and The Children’s Book

This is a two-fer.  I’m reviewing two books in one post.  First up is the audio book Life Class by Pat Barker. Oh my…skip this one for sure.  I know people keep lists of books that they want to someday read but few people put books on a list never to read.  If there’s anyone out there that does keep such a list, put this one on it.


I’ve taken many college English classes and have read lots of good and some not so good books.  I realize that sometimes some book are more “literary” than “enjoyment”…this poor novel doesn’t even make it into a good “literary” book.

Here’s what Amazon had to say, In the spring of 1914, a group of students at the Slade School of Art have gathered for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant is easily distracted by an intriguing fellow student, Elinor Brooke, but watches from afar when a well-known painter catches her eye. After World War I begins, Paul tends to the dying soldiers from the front line as a Belgian Red Cross volunteer, but the longer he remains, the greater the distance between him and home becomes. By the time he returns, Paul must confront not only the overwhelming, perhaps impossible challenge of how to express all that he has seen and experienced, but also the fact that life, and love, will never be the same for him again.”

Amazon readers say 3.7 stars.  In my opinion, that was VERY generous.  I’ll give it one star.  Even that was a stretch but there isn’t zero star opportunity.  This book is a time waste.  I never should have finished it as the ending made the rest of the book even worse than it already was.

Right after I finished Life Class I started in on The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt.

I got about three chapters in and I didn’t have a good feeling about the book.  I had just listened to the previous book I told you about and felt a little like I was judging this book by my feeling about that book.

I ended up going to Amazon and reading the synopsis of this book….”When children’s book author Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of a museum, she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends. But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. The Wellwoods’ personal struggles and hidden desires unravel against a breathtaking backdrop of the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme, as the Edwardian period dissolves into World War I and Europe’s golden era comes to an end.”

Then I scrolled further to find that readers only gave this book 3.7 stars as well.  I read some of the reviews and decided right then and there that life is too short to waste my time on a “blah” book.  There are so many good books out there waiting me to find, so why read something that at best will only be average.  So I quit listening to the book and boy oh boy am I glad I did because what I’m listening to now is awesome so far.  You’ll have to check in to the next installment of “What I’m Reading” to find out what it is.  I sure hope there’s a good ending to it because right now I love the book and the ending could go so many ways…I hope the author doesn’t blow it with a dumb ending.

5 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: Life Class and The Children’s Book

  1. Claudia Duke

    I just put one down for the same reason. I can’t even remember the name of it and it has only been a few days. I often fall into the trap of “it will get better as it goes”. Think I’ll start checking the comments on Amazon, sounds like a helpful thing to do.

    Reply
  2. Sue

    I also tried to read The Children’s Book but after a couple chapters I gave up. It just did not catch my interest and since it is a long book I did not want to struggle thru it.

    Reply
  3. Melissa G

    I have some duds in my time. I’ve read a lot of so-so books recently, but I just read a good one. I have to preread for my daughter whose reading level is much higher than what might be appropriate for her. So I frequently read juvenile books. This was on the Sunshine State Readers Award list for 6-8th graders and was a great book – well written, good plot, good moral of the story, believable characters, etc. Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford. There were good reviews for his other books, so I am going to check into them as well.

    Reply
  4. Anne Simonot

    Ugh I’ve started & dropped so many books lately. Even some of the finishes weren’t that great. Time to be pickier… or something.

    Reply
  5. Jackie

    I wanted to mention an audio book that I DID enjoy. It is a young adult book but held my attention the whole way through. It is called “The War that Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I found it well written and I was still thinking about it after.

    Reply

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