02 November 2011
Birdsong ~ Sebastian Faulks
Didn’t do it for me ... so much
The horrors of war are lost in a silly love story.
The preface read so well, promised so much. Faulks was so aware and so stunned by the horrific loss in WW1 that he wanted to write about it. Instead it was the mere background to a rather poor love story.
The book seemed to be peopled with too many characters. Pointless characters. I am still perplexed about the role of the girl from the present. Often I felt like characters were just sentences made from an authors jottings (hmmm .. I know ... I’ll have Elizabeth a bit of a modern miss ... she can go hiking in the north by herself ... yes ... and jump into bed with some young buck ... yes ... And why the birth scene ... ohhh ... wouldn’t it be cool if she gave her grandfather’s name to the baby ... )
I just wasn’t convinced by the modern romance or the main “love” story.
I felt he captured the confusion of battle, the depravations they endured and the human tragedy unfolding around him .... but the Preface lead me to believe that he would bring to the reader a sense of the “extermination” of 10 million men ... TEN MILLION MEN. ... The most we got from the Somme was a rather passing stiff-upper-lip comment of “those poor chaps are doing it hard at the Somme”. My only glimpse of that hideousness, the incredible slaughter, came through Elizabeth’s field trip when she came across a large memorial minutely inscribed with the names of the missing, not the dead, just the missing.
“... the experience of this war had somehow slipped form public understanding ... this was in part due to the reticence of those who had been there .... and then only 20 years later a second frenzy had convulsed the world, one aspect of which had been so well memorialised at the insistence of its victims that it seemed to leave no room in the public memory for earlier holocausts”