By Vanessa V. Friedman
Updated June 11, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Another World is about a family cobbled together from the wreckage of two prior families: Nick; his wife, Fran; and their son, Jasper, hated and envied by his two half siblings, Miranda (Nick’s daughter) and Gareth (Fran’s son). Their lives are upended when they find a disturbing mural beneath the wallpaper in the living room, a portrait of a family strangely similar to their own — two stepchildren, one shared son. Soon Nick discovers that the stepchildren were accused of murdering the little boy. The question, of course, is ”Will history repeat itself?” but Pat Barker (author of the 1995 Booker Prize winner The Ghost Road) never falls into this trap. As Nick observes, ”It’s easy to let oneself be dazzled by false analogies — the past never threatens anything as simple, or as avoidable, as repetition.” Neither does Barker. Instead she shows how some wounds, while they may never heal, can be endured. A