Book Review- Birdsong

Saturday, 21 July 2012
Title: Birdsong
Author: Sebastian Faulks
Publication Date: 2 June 1993
Publisher: Vintage International
Pages: 483
Genre: Historical Fiction, War, Classics

Rating: 4/5

Published to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. As the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford passes through a tempestuous love affair with Isabelle Azaire in France and enters the dark, surreal world beneath the trenches of No Man's Land, Sebastian Faulks creates a world of fiction that is as tragic as A Farewell to Arms and as sensuous as The English Patient. Crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love, Birdsong is a novel that will be read and marveled at for years to come.- Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This is a classic novel which was recommended to me by my Mum. I really only picked it up because I had to take a book to English class last year and I thought this book would look good to my teacher. I started it in January of this year and the end of last month I decided to make myself finish it.

Plot: 3/5

Some parts of the plot of this novel I really enjoyed but some parts I felt the novel could have done without. I found the plot in the trenches with Stephen to be the best part of the novel. It felt like Faulks had a really extensive knowledge of what World War I was really like. The feelings of fear about going over the top and the constant unease of being so close to the enemy were easily felt and came across very strongly in the book. 
The parts of the plot I didn't enjoy was the beginning about Stephen and Isabella's relationship. I just didn't find it very interesting and didn't find myself wanting to pick the novel back up while reading it. Also I didn't enjoy the parts with Stephen's granddaughter Elizabeth discovering things about her grandfather. Chapters of this were between chapters about Stephen and his time in the trenches. I felt this broke up the flow of the story with Stephen and it didn't really add anything to the overall story. 

  Characters: 4/5

The main character in this novel is an Englishman called Stephen Wraysford. I really like this character as I found him likeable in the beginning when he was in France, but I felt his character change when he entered the trenches just like many men's did. In the trenches he was a hard, cold character who kept all his emotions kept bottled inside because he didn't want the men he was commanding, to see how scared he was.
Other characters include Isabella, who Stephen has an affair with at the beginning. I didn't like Isabella as a character as I found some of the things she did to Stephen and the reasons she gave for doing them as not good enough. I did enjoy her story during the war as I found that interesting but I still didn't like her.
We also get to meet Isabella's sister Jean who sends letters to Stephen during the war and has a part to play at the end as well.
The men Stephen comes in contact with during his time in the trenches are a mixed bunch with many of his original friends being dead by the end of the novel, just how it was in the war. There were some so likeable characters that I actually felt a bit sad when they died.

Overall: 4/5

I actually kind of wish that this whole novel was just based in the trenches as I found this to be the most interesting and wouldn't have minded a whole book on that. I would recommend this novel to everybody as it is a classic and I think everybody should probably read it.





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