April Book of the Month: Noonday by Pat Barker

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As definitive, detailed and deeply felt as her Regeneration series, Pat Barker's new trilogy will be equally classic. 

Following a group of artists who meet at the Slade during WW1, Noonday is the final part of the story (though easily also a stand-alone novel), set in the thick of the Blitz. Elinor is unable to paint, out all night driving ambulances while her husband Paul is dragging bodies out of rubble. Their friend Kit Neville is trapped in a paper-pushing job at the Ministry of Information, frustrated that Paul's artistic reputation has overtaken his own, and aware of his long-buried feelings for Elinor.

As the blackout darkness befuddles and confuses, and as their exhaustion warps and distorts perception, their relationships become blurred. Hanging over them all is the constant presence of a maimed and suffering London, a city with wounds and damage but also with promises of new growth and freedom.

Barker's intimate details of wartime daily life (prostitutes hammering tacks in their shoes so they can be recognised in the dark, incendiaries falling like 'huge yellow peonies', an armchair dangling off the abyss of a house cleaved in half) create a powerfully immersive and engrossing atmosphere. It is her expert psychological insight, however, those fleeting moments of fear or connection or compassion, that make Barker a truly outstanding novelist.

What Mumsnetters said:

'Pat Barker IS amazing. I have to leave years between re-reads, they're just so intense.' - ThursdayLast

'I absolutely bloody adore the [Regeneration] trilogy. I could rave for hours about how she mixes up different styles, how they are three completely different novels yet they do all flow together.' - Thurlow

What the critics said:

'Barker's command of detail and gift for metaphor are as sharp as ever: her evocation of the bombed city is terrific, and every night patrol is steeped in drama...As a tribute to those who dared and suffered on the home front, Noonday is in the first rank.' - Mail on Sunday

'Ambitious, vivid, sharp... The closer you get to the end, the more lives need saving and the more thwarted and complicated the domestic backdrop.' - Daily Telegraph

About the author:

Pat Barker was born in Yorkshire in 1943. She began to write in her mid-twenties and was encouraged to pursue her career as a writer by the novelist Angela Carter. In 1983 she was named as one of Granta's 20 'Best Young British Novelists'. Her trilogy of novels about the First World War, which began with Regeneration in 1991, was partly inspired by her grandfather's experiences fighting in the trenches in France. The Eye in the Door (1993) won the Guardian Fiction Prize, and The Ghost Road (1995) won the Booker Prize for Fiction. Other novels include Another World, Border Crossing and Double Vision. Her latest trilogy is comprised of Life Class (2007), Toby's Room (2012) and Noonday (2015). Pat Barker was awarded a CBE in 2000.


Book giveaway

Penguin have 50 copies of Noonday to give to Mumsnetters: to claim your copy please fill in your details below. We'll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get a Kindle edition, paperback copy, or audiobook version.

Webchat with Pat

We are thrilled and delighted that Pat will be joining us to answer your questions about Noonday, all her previous award-winning novels and her fascinating career on Wednesday 27 April, 9-10pm. Please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and meet Pat on the night, and ask her a question or simply tell her what you think of her books. It’ll be a particularly special chat, very much hope you can make it…

This giveaway closes Tuesday 22 March, so apply now!


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February Book of the Month: The Noise of Time 

Last updated: 5 months ago