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Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks


A love and war epic spanning generations.

One of the critics features on the cover of Birdsong wrote that Faulks' World War One classic is "not a perfect novel - just a great one," and I couldn't agree more. Birdsong switches effortlessly from bourgeois France to the trenches to modern-day London. It's about a serious, passionate but withdrawn young man, Stephen Wraysford, who falls in love with Isabelle, the wife of the man he is sent to work with in Amiens, Northern France. The two enjoy a passionate but doomed love affair; Isabelle runs away and a broken-hearted Stephen enlists to fight. After years of harrowing experiences in the trenches, he discovers Isabelle's sister and comes face to face with the past he never overcame. The modern-day sub-plot makes the story even more real and brings it into the present, but I can't say much more without giving the end away! It's an epic tear-jerker, and while some of the tie-ins are a bit too neat, it keeps you guessing, doesn't end in the idealized, happily-ever-way you might expect, and really hammers the reality of the war home. Even if you're not into war literature you'll not be disappointed.


Sarah Horrocks
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