Birdsong was written by Sebastian Faulks and was published in 1993.
Has there been a movie made of it?
Who are the main characters?
Stephen Wraysford – a British man who has an affair with a French textile merchant’s wife and then goes to fight in World War One.
Isabelle Azaire – Stephen’s partner in a passionate love affair
Jack Firebrace – a who digs tunnels to place mines under the German army in WWI. He fights near Stephen much of the time.
Michael Weir – Stephen’s best friend and the officer in charge of Jack’s diggers.
Elizabeth Benson – Stephen’s grand daughter who is searching for her past and trying to get to know her family.
What’s it about?
Stephen Wraysford is a British man who travels to Amiens, France to learn about the textile business. Once there, he falls in love with his host’s wife and the two engage in a passionate affair. After Isabelle leaves, Stephen enlists in the army for WWI. The rest of the story tells of his battles, his loss and discovery of hope and hatred, and his seemingly undying love for Isabelle. It also includes the story of his friends Michael Weir and Jack Firebrace.
A side story is the tale of Stephen’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Benson, who is also engaged in an affair with a married person. She is trying to find out about her past through Stephen’s old diaries.
Why is this book a classic?
This book is a modern classic – having been written a little over a decade ago. The humanity Faulks can portray is astounding. Despite the fact that some of his characters seem cold, you grow to care about them and feel the loss when they leave or die. He gives you a small taste of the absolute terror of war, as well as the overwhelming loss and sense of waste that accompanied WWI and the millions of deaths it brought. And this is done in a manner which incorporates both shock value, (graphic details of men dying), and emotional symbolism (the descriptions of the memorials).
Why should I read this book?
To get the tiniest idea of what our heritage included when it came to the Great War, whether you’re American, British, French, or German.
Has it won any awards?
Faulks won “Author of the Year” by British Book Awards for this book.
If you don’t enjoy reading graphic material, both violent and sexual, you may not enjoy this book. It is a contrast between strong passions – the passion for sex and the passion to kill – and Faulks does not hold back in describing either.
My personal thoughts:
I don’t usually like war books (why am I reading half of these? good question…). I am too much of an empathetically emotional person to read much of one in a sitting, but this one kept me up until almost 3 in the morning finishing it. It was human enough to balance out the violence, but still get the point across.