52. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks (100 book challenge)

‘It’s a great story set in France during World War I.’

If I had heard those words ten years ago there is no way I would have picked up the book and given it a go. But that’s been the best thing about this #100bookchallenge – it makes me read (and enjoy) books that would have never ever made it to my bedside table.

Faulks describes the war in gory detail – the mud, the lice, the sweat, the blood and the anger. The book is full of complex characters described in a way that made me feel empathetic toward them all, even when they made terrible decisions. I wanted so desperately for them to survive and return to their families, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t going to happen.

Birdsong is not just about the years of 1914-1918. The chapters stretch from pre-war to the 1970s, showing the back story of the main character Stephen, and also the impacts of intergenerational trauma on their children and grandchildren. With a couple of necessary love stories thrown in soften the edges!

This book is raw and real. I always knew wars were horrific, but this is the first time I’ve been in the trenches learning just how horrific they can be.

I highly recommend this one – it will keep you engrossed to the very last page.


In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.

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