My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've been a fan of Pat Barker's novels for about 30 years, ever since I read her Regeneration Trilogy.
This recent novel is the least satisfying one.
The descriptions of the Blitz are compelling. She does what the great novelists always do. She gives you felt experiences that you would never be able to have otherwise. I've read other novels about the Blitz and watched documentaries and studied memoirs about this period but Barker does what all of them didn't do for me. She gave me the experiences on an emotional and psychological and sensual level.
The rest of the novel -- focusing on the inner lives and personal relations of a group of characters -- seemed considerably less compelling. In fact, it seemed contrived and predictable in ways Barker has never been. I kept feeling that she was lost when it came to talking about her characters. Or maybe she was bored with them and didn't want to go through the trouble of making them interesting to this reader.
In either case, read the Blitz parts and skim the rest.
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