The fourth novel by Sebastian Faulks, though published in 1993, has an enduring popularity.
The plot concerns the young Englishman, Stephen Wrayford and covers the years 1910-1918. The main action takes place during the First World War and the vivid portrayal of life in the trenches is horribly real and totally unforgettable.
This book moved me to tears on many occasions and I was bereft when I finished it, as I had grown so fond of the characters and involved in their lives. The characters are well- drawn and Faulks is a master storyteller and draws us quickly into his web.
This book has it all; a tender love story, the brutal nature of the First World War, the futility of global conflict, friendship, bravery and humanity in the face of indescribable suffering.
A less satisfactory aspect of the story is a parallel narrative set in 1978. I don’t wish to say too much about this as it might ruin the enjoyment for new readers but I found myself irritated when the story sprang forward into modern times and wished to get back to 1918. I appreciate that this element was introduced to establish a sense of continuity and links with the past and relatively modern times.
Overall, I highly recommend “Birdsong”. I found it entertaining, informative and a cracking great read. If you are looking for a book that will leave you a changed person after you have read it, this is the novel for you.
You can reserve a copy of Birdsong on South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.