Writer: Sebastian Faulks
Publishing House: Vintage International
Date of Publication: June 2nd 1997 (first published September 27th 1993)
Rating: 5 stars
“But you must live your own life eventually. You have one chance only.”
A poetic, heart-breaking novel, about the atrocities of war and the hope that springs even under the most harrowing circumstances. Sebastian Faulks writes with elegant, beautiful prose, and creates memorable characters.
Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire take the central stage due to their tragic love-affair, but for me, the characters that are the heart of the novel are Jack Firebrace and Weir, representing all that is good in a time of war, and the importance of self-sacrifice in times of duty.
The only feature that didn’t attract my attention was the part of the narration that is set during the 1970s. I understand why Faulks decided to include it in Birdsong, but I wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t there. There is a BBC adaptation, produced in 2012, with some alterations but with respect in the spirit of the novel and a great performance – one of his many great performances, actually – by Joseph Mawle as Jack Firebrace.
“I don’t know your life history, but I think children need to believe in powers outside themselves. That’s why they read books about witches and wizards and God knows what. There is a human need for that which childhood normally exhausts. But if a child’s world is broken up by too much reality, that need goes underground.”