Suzi Feay

White Spirit & Blitz Spirit


By Pat Barker

Hamish Hamilton 258pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

It’s 1940 and Elinor has become an ambulance driver during the London Blitz. Another driver, Violet, confides that she always carries a cyanide tablet just in case. Elinor declines the offer of one, echoing King Lear’s Fool: ‘I don’t want to go to bed at noon.’ This book completes a trilogy, coming after Life Class and Toby’s Room, which follows three artistic friends from their classes at the Slade before the First World War, through the heyday of Bloomsbury and now headlong into another war. Which of them will survive the onslaught?

Elinor seemed loosely based on Dora Carrington in the earlier books, but, longer-lived, she has outgrown the