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Birdsong (1993)

by Sebastian Faulks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: French Trilogy (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,8881531,554 (3.97)1 / 488
Rootless and heartbroken Stephen Wraysford joins the army at the outbreak of World War I. He and his men are given the assignment to tunnel under the German lines and set off bombs. The comaraderie, love, and loyalty of the soldiers contrasts with the horrors of the underground, air, and trench warfare.… (more)
  1. 50
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (rrravenita)
  2. 21
    The Absolutist by John Boyne (NeilDalley)
  3. 10
    War Underground by Alexander Barrie (mabith)
    mabith: The true story of the tunnelers working during WWI, a little dated in tone but an excellent read.
  4. 00
    A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot (Cecilturtle)
  5. 00
    The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock (aliklein)
  6. 11
    If This Is a Man / The Truce by Primo Levi (sombrio)
  7. 00
    Between the Sword and the Wall: a novel of World War I by Thomas De Angelo (Jan6767)
  8. 00
    Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford (pdebolt)
  9. 00
    A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (PLReader)
  10. 00
    The First Day on the Somme by Martin Middlebrook (Polaris-)
    Polaris-: For anyone interested in an expertly told history of the background, preparation, and execution of the Battle of the Somme, as well as the aftermath, this will certainly flesh out a lot of the detail behind the central battle featured in Faulks' novel.

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» See also 488 mentions

English (150)  Dutch (3)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Oy vey. Sebastian Faulks is the Leonard Cohen of romance novels--in the you-want-to-slit-your-wrists-after-reading-him sense. The problem is he takes you there, too effectively.

Usually I'd give him 5 stars, which is unquestionably what the quality of his writing deserves. But in this case there was so much graphic violence and (gratuitous in many cases IMHO) and horrors of war (WWI nonetheless) I skipped large passages describing brains leaking out of skulls etc...

So 5 stars for quality of writing and taking me there. 3 stars for subject matter I found too gory for my taste. ( )
  stickersthatmatter | May 29, 2023 |
BIRDSONG was a book that i found to be a little confusing in places, however the overall story was intriguing and rather moving, giving an excellent alternative perspective of the great war. Whilst it was a lengthy, and sometimes slow read, I am looking forward to studying it and exploring its themes further. ( )
  Detective-Stories | Nov 6, 2022 |
Beautifully written novel about life, love, friendship, and war. It begins with Englishman Stephen Wraysford’s life prior to the start of World War I. He is sent to work in Amiens, France, where he falls in love with the factory owner’s wife. It then moves forward to France in 1916. Stephen is a lieutenant in the British Army, which is engaged in trench warfare. The last part is based in the 1970s. Stephen’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, is attempting to track down what happened to her grandfather after discovering several journals he wrote during the war.

Faulks’s elegant writing is filled with vivid imagery. We follow Stephen to the battlefield, experiencing the sights, sounds, and horrors of war. There is a scene in which Stephen and another soldier are trapped in an underground tunnel. I experienced a sense of claustrophobia that was almost palpable. We also accompany Elizabeth as she visits a veteran in an asylum many years later, showing him the tenderness and compassion that he has missed in his isolated environment.

This book contains seven sections and three time periods. It explores a wide variety of themes, including love, heartbreak, loneliness, fear, and courage. It also takes a look at the psychological effects of war and the attempt to maintain some semblance of humanity under excruciating conditions. It is a difficult read in many places, but also feels authentic. The book examines the futility of war and the deep wounds it leaves on society. It also includes a hopeful note about remembrance and the circle of life. The characters seem so genuine that I missed them when I finished the book. I simply loved it and am adding it to my list of favorites.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Hall for Cornwall
  rogamills | Oct 8, 2022 |
It's a book that is full of the possibility of emotion, but it falls short. With cliched scenes, predictable plot, and long, sterile descriptions, the novel lingers on and on. The ending was foretold so long before it happened that I lost all interest; there is no suspense.
After p. 350 it finally picked up, and there are some very beautiful and poignant scenes, but at that point it was too late for me.
I recommend instead, [Un long dimanche de fiançailles] by Sébastien Japrisot. ( )
  Cecilturtle | May 24, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sebastian Faulksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davids, TinkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Modick, KlausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perria, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'When I go from hence, let this be my parting word, that what I have seen is unsurpassable.' Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali
For Edward
First words
The boulevard du cange was a broad, quiet street that marked the eastern flank of the city of Amiens.
Madame Azaire had not fully engaged Stephen's eye
I am driven by a greater force than I can resist. I believe that force has its own reason and its own morality even if they may never be clear to me while I( am alive
A few yards further on they disinterred Wilkinson. His dark profile looked promisingly composed as Stephen approached. ...but as they lifted him, they turned his body and Stephen saw that his head was cut away in section , so that the smooth skin and the handsome face remained on one side , but on the other were the ragged edges of a skull from which the remains of his brain were dropping onto his scorched uniform.
It was like a resurrection in a cemetery twelve miles long. @Bent agonised shapes loomed in multitudes on the churned earth, limping and dragging back to reclaim their life.
He seemed a man removed to some new existence where he was dug in and forified by his lack of naturak feeling or response
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Wikipedia in English


Rootless and heartbroken Stephen Wraysford joins the army at the outbreak of World War I. He and his men are given the assignment to tunnel under the German lines and set off bombs. The comaraderie, love, and loyalty of the soldiers contrasts with the horrors of the underground, air, and trench warfare.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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. (0-679-77681-8)
Haiku summary
Brave soldiers digging
claustrophobic tunnels. Trench
warfare on both sides.

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Average: (3.97)
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2 73
2.5 16
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