Birdsong

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9780099387916: Birdsong

Set before and during the great war, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. Over the course of the novel he suffers a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.

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Review:

Readers who are entranced by sweeping historical sagas will devour Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks' drama set during the first world war. There's even a little high-toned erotica thrown into the mix to convince the doubtful. The book's hero, a 20-year-old Englishman named Stephen Wraysford, finds his true love on a trip to Amiens in 1910. Unfortunately, she's already married, the wife of a wealthy textile baron. Wrayford convinces her to leave a life of passionless comfort to be at his side, but things do not turn out according to plan. Wraysford is haunted by this doomed affair and carries it with him into the trenches of the war. Birdsong derives most of its power from its descriptions of mud and blood, and Wraysford's attempt to retain a scrap of humanity while surrounded by it. There is a simultaneous description of his present-day granddaughter's quest to read his diaries, which is designed to give some sense of perspective; this device is only somewhat successful. Nevertheless, Birdsong is a rewarding read, an unflinching war story and a touching romance.

Review:

"Magnificent - deeply moving" (Sunday Times)

"With Birdsong Faulks has produced a mesmerizing story of love and war... This book is so powerful that as I finished it I turned to the front to start again" (Sunday Express)

"Amazing... I have read it and re-read it and can think of no other novel for many, many years that has so moved me or stimulated in me so much reflection on the human spirit" (Daily Mail)

"An overpowering and beautiful novel... Ambitious, outrageous, poignant, sleep-disturbing, Birdsong is not a perfect novel, just a great one" (Simon Schama New Yorker)

"Engrossing, moving, and unforgettable" (The Times)

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