I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run
A senseless slaughter of innocent lives, young men, brothers, cousins, family connections living in the same towns and villages, lined up at the front of water logged trenches waiting for the whistle and their date with destiny.
It is 1910, four years before the start of World War 1 and Stephen Wraysford, an industrialist from the north of England, is on a visit to a family in Northern France, in the small town of Amiens where an exchange of business ideas is about to take place. An intorduction to Isabelle Azaire, the wife of Rene Azaire leads to a passionate affair which has repercussions and for reaching consequences long into the future.
We move forward to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the enevitable commencement of hostilities and a blood bath on a scale never before witnessed. Wraysford's command is that of Lieutenant in charge of a small group of "tunnel rats". Their function is to infiltrate the German troops by tunnelling underneath their forward line, plant explosives, and in the resulting mayhem, offer the allies an opportunity to advance. Given that the same tactic is employed by both sides there is little or nothing to be gained, apart from the inevitable sacrifice of human life.
Birdsong is one of the greatest books ever written and it has been a real joy for me to rediscover again 25+ years after it's debut. Not only is it a statement about the futility of war, war is inevitable it is endemic in the human spirit, but equally it is a love story, the passion that can bind two people together nomatter the circumstances. Birdsong is a book of good and evil, of love and death, a momumental literary achievement of one of the saddest events in the history of mankind.