I just finished reading Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks (Vintage International, 1993) and what a terrific read! I came across this book at my local library's book sale about a year ago and it looked intriguing so I picked it up. After researching the book online, I discovered that it has been extremely popular in the U.K. since it was released and has been adapted for radio, stage, and recently television as a two-part film for PBS's Masterpiece Anthology series. It is also part of a trilogy (The Girl at the Lion d'Or and Charlotte Gray) consisting of similar characters. It is the perfect British saga to tide Downton Abbey fans over until its third-season return in the U.S. next year.
From the PublisherPublished to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. As the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford passes through a tempestuous love affair with Isabelle Azaire in France and enters the dark, surreal world beneath the trenches of No Man's Land, Sebastian Faulks creates a world of fiction that is as tragic as A Farewell to Arms and as sensuous as The English Patient. Crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love, Birdsong is a novel that will be read and marveled at for years to come.
" I feel guilty that I have survived when all the others are gone."
- Stephen Wraysford
Birdsong elegantly expresses man's eternal struggle to find meaning even in the darkest of days. It reminds us of the sacrifices of our war veterans and those of our allies, and how we can never fully understand or process the emotional, physical, and mental depths they have traversed. Yet surprisingly through all the ugliness and despair, the need for love remains.
If you have already read this novel, leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.