Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Book review: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

BirdsongBirdsong by Sebastian Faulks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is like nothing I've ever come across. Birdsong had been recommended to me countless times by book club members and then I saw a trailer for the TV adaptation on the BBC.
I've never read a book about war before. But then, this book isn't really about war, it's about Stephen Wraysford's life. It encompasses everything from his love affair with Isabelle, to his time during the first world war and his rise within the ranks.
There are several things I love about this book. For a start I love Faulks' descriptions of just about everything. He makes the trenches and tunnels a place no one would like to go to and the love scenes with Isabelle something a certain Mr Grey would be proud of. It has been an absolute joy and journey to read.
The characters that Faulks creates are exceptional, especially Wraysford's comrades and colleagues. The way that their relationships are portrayed is heartfelt, incredible and is the reason why I spent the second half of this book in tears or close to. My personal favourite was Weir. Knowing that these characters could die at any moment in this tragic war makes the book unpredictable and surprising.
I also enjoy the fact that you don't always follow Wraysford's story. Some time we spend with tunneler, Jack Firebrace, as well as some time with Wraysford's granddaughter Elizabeth in the 1970's and Weir as he returns home.
I don't know much about the first world war, but I was surprised about the use of the tunnels. I wasn't aware of the part they played in the war and I found it interesting. It wasn't just your usual trenches and shelling, although they way in which Faulks describes those parts make it sound horrific.
Another reviewer wrote that it's almost like Faulks is writing from memory and personal experience and I second that. It feels like this character is real and you're following his life story. It's an exceptional book and I recommend it to everyone. You won't come across anything else like this.

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