A new novel from the Booker Prize winning Pat Barker, author of the Regeneration Trilogy, that unforgettably portrays London during the Blitz (her first portrayal of World War II) and reconfirms her place in the very top rank of British novelists.
London, the Blitz, Autumn 1940. As the bombs fall on the blacked-out city, ambulance driver Elinor Brooke races from bomb sites to hospitals trying to save the lives of injured survivors, working alongside former friend Kit Neville, while her husband Paul Tarrant works as an air-raide warden.
Once fellow students at the Slade School of Fine Art before the First World War destroyed the hopes of their generation, they now find themselves caught in another war, this time at home. As the bombing intensifies, the constant risk of death makes all three reach out for quick consolation. And into their midst comes the spirit medium Bertha Mason, grotesque and unforgettable, whose ability to make contact with the deceased finds vastly increased demands as death rains down from the skies. Old loves and obsessions resurface until Elinor is brought face to face with an almost impossible choice.
Completing the story of Elinor Brooke, Paul Tarrant and Kit Neville begun with Life Class and continued with Toby's Room, Noonday is both a stand-alone novel and the climax of a trilogy. Writing about the Second World War for the first time, Pat Barker brings the besieged and haunted city of London into electrifying life in her most powerful novel since the Regeneration trilogy.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Pat Barker is most recently the author of the novels Toby's Room and Life Class, as well as the highly acclaimed Regeneration Trilogy: Regeneration; The Eye in the Door, winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road, winner of the Booker Prize; as well as seven other novels. She lives in the north of England.
Date of Birth:May 8, 1943
Place of Birth:Thornaby-on-Tees, England
Education:London School of Economics; Durham University
Read an Excerpt
Elinor was halfway up the drive when she sensed she was being watched. She stopped and scanned the upstairs windows—wide open in the heat as if the house were gasping for breath—but there was nobody looking down. Then, from the sycamore tree at the end of the gar- den, came a rustling of leaves. Oh, of course: Kenny. She was tempted to ignore him, but that seemed unkind, so she went across the lawn and peered up into the branches.
No reply. There was often no reply.
Kenny had arrived almost a year ago now, among the first batch of evacuees, and, although this area had since been reclassified—“neutral” rather than “safe”—here he remained. She felt his gaze heavy on the top of her head, like a hand, as she stood squinting up into the late-afternoon sunlight.
Kenny spent hours up there, not reading his comics, not building a tree house, not dropping conkers on people’s heads—no, just watching. He had a red notebook in which he wrote down car numbers, the time people arrived, the time they left . . . Of course, you forgot what it was like to be his age: probably every visitor was a German spy. Oh, and he ate himself, that was the other thing. He was forever nibbling his fingernails, tearing at his cuticles, picking scabs off his knees and licking up the blood. Even pulling hair out of his head and sucking it. And, despite being a year at the village school, he hadn’t made friends. But then, he was the sort of child who attracts bullying, she thought, guiltily conscious of her own failure to like him.
“Kenny? Isn’t it time for tea?”
Then, with a great crash of leaves and branches, he dropped at her feet and stood looking up at her, scowling, for all the world like a small, sour, angry crab apple.
“I’m afraid he couldn’t come, he’s busy.”
“He’s always busy.”
“Well, yes, he’s got a lot to do. Are you coming in now?” Evidently that didn’t deserve a reply.
He turned his back on her and ran off through the arch into the kitchen garden.