LIFE CLASS by Gilli Allan - review by J B JOHNSTON, of Brook Cottage Books
Life Class is about 4 individuals coming together for an art class. More specifically a Life Class. There is Stefan, the enigmatic and moody tutor of the class. This is his first teaching class and he is met with more resistance than he had bargained on. The class doesn't want to be taught new skills. They simply want to have fun. And, if Stefan was totally honest, he doesn't want to be a teacher! But, just what are his ambitions?
Then there is Dory, looking for a new start and a new future. Her less than conventional job, working in a sexual health clinic, has given her a jaded view of men and relationships in general. She is uncertain what path to take in her career and indeed her life. She's had her heart broken and her life disrupted. Needing to find some direction and a distraction, she is talked into going to the life class by her bossy sister Fran.
Fran is on the wrong side of 30 and is feeling the beginnings of a midlife crisis looming on the horizon. Her life is spiralling out of control as she hurtles towards her forties. She makes a completely out of character decision and soon begins to regret it, along with the decisions of the past. Trying to find an old boyfriend via the Internet takes her into a place darker than she could have imagined and threatens to destroy the life she settled on. Could things have been different for her if she'd been brave enough to follow her dreams when she was younger? Is it too late for her?
And lastly, there is the skinny, pale and mysterious teenager Dom, taken in by Stefan, but for what reason? Dom's life has not been easy. A street kid who has seen and been exposed to too much and now fears for his life. Yet he finds it hard to pull away from the lifestyle that threatens to destroy him, in more ways than one. Why has Stefan attached himself to this kid? And why have they been to Dory's clinic?
This is a fabulously well written book and explores the complexities around relationships, the need to be accepted, and the desire for love and family. It examines the choices that are made and the regrets that follow those decisions. Each one of the characters created by Gilli Allan is interesting, and multifaceted. Each of their lives is so different from the other yet connected by their circumstances and an art class. They are all caught in the idiosyncrasy that is human nature, and the uncertainty of who to trust in a world that has not been kind. At the heart of the story is love.
But, this is not a conventional hearts and flowers type of love story. It gets caught up in the nitty-gritty of life examining difficult subject matter in a tasteful and compassionate manner. We gain an insight into the not so nice side of life and human nature. Can love overcome all of this? You'll have to read the book to find out! This is a great read and I look forward to reading more by this talented author.