Wednesday, April 18, 2012


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Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks, Random House Inc, 1993, 402 pp

Sebastian Faulks is a famous novelist in his native land, Great Britain. I had heard of him but it took the suggestion of the British member of one of my reading groups to get me reading him.

Birdsong is the second of his trilogy of historical novels set in France. The Girl at the Lion D'Or came first and he completed the trilogy with Charlotte Gray. I have seen the movie made from Charlotte Gray and it was great.

Having read The Invisible Bridge just two weeks earlier, I was saturated with war, but Birdsong provided an enlightening comparison. It is set during WWI with extensive scenes of trench warfare. The writing is on a much higher level of skill than that in The Invisible Bridge. Though possibly not as smoothly readable, Faulks creates characters whose flaws are deeply exacerbated by the war experience. I found his characters more believable and more interesting. His ability to put the reader into the times and places of the war is impressive.

Best of all for a confirmed anti-war person such as myself, he makes clear the insanity of war, the senseless sacrifices required of soldiers and civilians, and the disruption of life, society, families and individuals that results. Actually the gruesomeness level in this novel is high.

Birdsong has been made into a two-part television film which premieres in the United States on PBS this month.

(Birdsong is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

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