I had mixed feelings about Birdsong when I first read it last year. I have always enjoyed reading Sebastian Faulks but I often find his melodramatic storylines put me off. So when I heard that there was a new two part drama out on the BBC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found the love affair between Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire to be over the top and unrealistic in the book, but maybe this storyline would be interpreted better as a filmed drama? And could the BBC pull off the horrors of the First World War scenes in the same harrowing and detailed way that Faulks did? I was eager to find out.
In the end, it took me a few days to finally settle down to watch Birdsong, mostly because I wanted to be in the right frame of mind to sit through an hour or two of depressing war scenes. It wasn’t actually the war scenes that I should have worried about – it was everything else. I was pre-warned that there was a lot of ‘staring into space’, but this did not fully prepare me for the huge amount of blank faces… sorry, I mean ‘meaningful looks’. I also wasn’t prepared for the loud and dramatic music that was constantly building up and up and up to… another scene of the two lovers staring into each other’s eyes. Continue reading
After recently returning from my holiday in Naples and reading Naples ’44, I got to thinking about some of my most memorable holiday reads. Packing is always difficult when going away, but one of the most important things is to pack the correct books. Everybody has a holiday reading list, usually books they haven’t had time to open and want to be able to fully relax with. If there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that the enjoyable books are not always the most memorable books that you might read on holiday.
I have mixed feeling about this book. On the one hand, I found the descriptions of life in the trenches in the First World War powerful and thought provoking, but what lets Birdsong down for me, is the weak romantic storyline that continues throughout.
The opening chapters set the scene in a small town in France, where a young English man, Stephen Wraysford has come to learn more about his trade in textiles. He stays in the the grand family home of the Azaires. Here he embarks on a love affair which will change the course of his life. There are some suggestive scenes with forbidden glances and hasty fumblings and also a couple of steamy sex scenes put in for good measure. As I read these parts, it didn’t feel realistic, and it almost felt as though these passionate encounters were only added to sell more copies. Continue reading