|Enable Book ZoomAdd to Wish List|
To what extremes can the human body and spirit be driven? Whether out of passion or violence, this question is central to Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong. When 20-year-old Stephen Wraysford arrives in Amiens in 1910 to learn about the textile business, he has little idea to what extent his life is about to change. Staying with the prosperous manufacturer, Azaire, Stephen begins a passionate love affair with his host’s wife, Isabelle.
Their ultimately doomed relationship – beautifully, hauntingly drawn – is the focus for the first part of the book. Six years later, Stephen prepares to march into no-man’s-land in the Battle of the Somme. Birdsong offers unflinching descriptions of the First World War: the dangerous, claustrophobic tunnelling work; the grotesque injuries suffered by the men; the mix of terror and adrenalin that keeps them going.
Faulks’s characters compel our attention, and his narrative, whilst never eschewing the horrors of war, remains tender and moving to the end. Powerful, evocative and utterly compelling, Birdsong is literature at its finest. The author’s introduction, included in this edition, explains the personal and creative journey he undertook in producing his masterpiece, while evocative illustrations by Swava Harasymowicz perfectly capture the novel’s progression from love story to chronicle of war.