Birdsong (Movie Tie-in Edition)

Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks This book comes in three parts: Stephen before the war; Stephen during the war; and in 1978 with Elizabeth, the grandchild of a WWI soldier who stumbles upon Stephen's diaries. As you can probably tell, this novel focuses mostly on Stephen. The story opens with Stephen, a Brit who travels to France before the First World War to learn about the management of factories. There he meets Isabelle, the wife of the host he is staying with. From then on, Stephen's complicated relationship with Isabelle shapes the novel. The shifting perspectives isn't confusing, though I couldn't see the reason why they were set up this way. Going back and forth between the time periods made Elizabeth's sections a little anticlimactic; while Stephen is having a mental breakdown and experiencing constant bloodshed, Elizabeth's relationship with Robert falls flat in comparison. Additionally, the chapters set during the war were so beautifully written that the sections outside of that setting didn't draw me in as much. The wartime descriptions didn't always stay with Stephen, sometimes they went to one of the infantrymen or to a "tunnel rat." And while descriptions of the wartime brutality have been seen in other books, like All Quiet on the Western Front, here Faulks made all of the experiences real and jarring. He was very particular about the soldiers: their jobs, their home life, their struggles with adjusting to wartime, etc. And Faulks had a dozen of military characters--all with different backgrounds, ranks, and personas--and Faulks kept all of them straight. Overall rating: This emotional drama was fine in other characters, but I was more invested in Stephen's POV.