Book review – Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks): Saved by Love

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I discovered Sebastian Faulks, the contemporary British novelist and journalist thanks to Humanitas Caravan, last autumn, with his jewel – ‘Birdsong‘. By chance, this was my first read book in 2021 and, moreover, the book to break the ice with in my new project,Dor de zbor/Lust for Flying’ – a virtual space where I am waiting for you next to a glass of good wine or a cup of flavoured coffee, on a background piano music to talk about a book, a trip, the lust for dreaming or flying…

 

  •  About the author   

Sebastian Faulks, born in 1953, in UK, graduated Wellington College in 1966 and after that, he studied literature and history in Cambridge. He worked as a journalist for prestigious publications also collaborating with BBC TV station. His literary debut was in 1993, with the novel ‘Birdsong’ for which he was named „The Author of the Year” by the jury of the British Book Awards competition. He published numerous other novels, many oh them being published also in Romania, and won many literary awards. For his contribution to literature, he received in 2002 a valuable distinction – the Order of the British Empire. (https://www.sebastianfaulks.com/)

 

  • About the book

‘Birdsong’ begins with an unconventional love story in France, in 1910, between Isabelle, the wife of a French businessman, and Stephen, the younger Englishman who came to visit. Repressed emotions and passions (N.B. the author’s writing denoting a vibrant eroticism) determine radical decisions meant to shape the destiny of the two protagonists and which is the emotional prelude to the dramas to be unleashed by the First World War. The horrors of Faulks’ painfully remind of ‘Nothing New on the Western Front’ (Erich Maria Remarque). The first title that the author had in mind for this novel was Flesh and blood’, a choice not at all incomprehensible if we refer to the abundance and traumatic details of the abominable scenes that are often meticulously described. Suddenly, the reader, who has been induced into an oppressive state of claustrophobia, is taken out of the trenches and galleries which are dug on very long distances underground, and teleported to England in 1979, along with a young independent Londoner woman in search of her inner self.

So, the action is switched between two different plans, but which is the binder between these plans? I will not divulge anything of the surprising epic thread that binds them, but I will emphasize the thematic links that give emotional touch to the writing: love in all its forms, fear of attachment, loneliness and seclusion, abandonment and, strikingly, life.

Memorable story, lovely characters, strong emotions, fine psychology.

Sebastian Faulks, Sir, I shall certainly return!

 

Quotes

  • „The function of the music is to liberate in the soul those feelings which normally we keep locked up in the heart.”
  • „Our own choices might not be as good as those that are made for us.”

 

Read more book reviews in Romanian by the author on this Facebook page.

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