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Description - Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong is a novel about the tenderness and the limits of human flesh, about men and women living at the edge. Set mostly in France spanning the years before and during the First World War, it captures the drama and destruction of that era as it tells the story of Stephen, a young Englishman who is impelled through a series of extreme experiences, from a traumatic clandestine love affair which rips apart the bourgeois French family he lives with, through grim insanity of the Great War. In the vast scenes of suffering and the tender depiction of human love, Birdsong is at times almost unbearably too moving to read. Faulks has brought to it the same richness of writing and emotional intimacy that characterised The Girl at the Lion d'Or, but has widened the scope to produce a novel of moving grandeur. Since its first publication, Birdsong has become a huge bestseller and one of the most popular literary novels of its generation. In 2012 it was adapted into an acclaimed two-part TV drama starring Eddie Redmayne.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780091773731
ISBN-10: 0091773733
Format: Hardback
(240mm x 160mm x 34mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: Hutchinson
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publish Date: 16-Sep-1993
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

UK Kirkus Review » Curiously, it is the fighting in World War I more than World War II that resonates in the imagination of contemporary writers. Its now unimaginable and unimaginative killing fields, commemorated by the rows of simple white crosses, reverberates now as much as ever. Birdsong is possibly the finest example of this cross-fertilization, pipping Pat Barker and Geoff Dyer to the post. After beginning in Amiens, France, in 1910, the action of this much-praised novel shifts between the French battlefields of the First World War and suburban England in the late 1970s. It is both a passionate love story and a tale of camaraderie and isolation in war. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Faulks's fourth novel, an English bestseller, is his second (after A Fool's Alphabet, 1993) to appear in the US: a riveting story of love - and incalculable suffering - during WW I. What could become mere period romance is transformed, in this writer's hands, into dramatized history with a power almost Tolstoyan. Faulks renders love as compellingly as war - as in the opening chapters, when 20-year-old Britisher Stephen Wraysford, on business in Amiens, falls passionately in love with the childless and unhappily married Isabelle Azaire, nine years his senior, and steals her away. This is in 1910, and when Isabelle, secretly pregnant, suffers from overwhelming guilt, she abandons Stephen, returning to her unloving husband; six years later, Wraysford is near Amiens again, now as a Lieutenant (soon Captain) with the British Expeditionary Force, preparing for battle in what is to be the butchery of the Somme valley. Isabelle and Wraysford will meet briefly again - and both will be changed forever by the catastrophic war about to sweep over humanity, changing entire generations. Fauiks's depictions of war in the trenches - and in the mazes of deadly tunnels beneath them - are extraordinary, graphic, powerful, and unsparing. Stephen will survive to war's end, and so will Isabelle, though not before both are changed beyond recognition, and doomed not to be rejoined again. The war, here, is Faulks's real subject, his stories of destroyed lives, however wrenching, only throwing its horror into greater relief and making it the more unbearable. An ending too neatly symbolic can be pardoned, while a denouement describing the birth of Wraysford's and Isabelle's great-grandson - in 1979, when their lost histories have been ferreted out by a granddaughter named Elizabeth, the new mother - is so perfectly conceived and delivered as to bring tears to the reader insufficiently steeled. Once more, Faulks shows his unparalleled strengths as a writer of plain human life and high, high compassion. A wonderful book, ringing with truth. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks's books include A Possible Life, Human Traces, On Green Dolphin Street, Engleby, Birdsong and the number one bestseller A Week in December.

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