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Birdsong and All Quiet on the Western Front.

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Introduction

Book Review Birdsong and All Quiet on the Western Front "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks and "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque, are two books set during World War I. They each illustrate the traumas and horrors of war during that period of time. These two novels demonstrate how the burden of war irrevocably altered the lives of the characters. The plot of "Bird Song" is complex. It is written in the third person and is set in France, during the early nineteen hundreds. The book describes a love affair between the main character Stephen Wraysford, an overseas textiles correspondent and Isabelle Azaire, the wife of a factory owner. They decide to elope together and Isabelle becomes pregnant with Stephen's child. However, Isabelle becomes afraid that Stephen will not accept their child and decides to return home without revealing her pregnancy to him. Several years after Isabelle's sudden departure, Stephen is a member of the British Army which is stationed in France. During his time in France, he unexpectedly meets Isabelle and her sister Jeanne. To his disappointment, he discovers that Isabelle had fallen in love with a Prussian officer. However, meetings between Jeanne and Stephen become more frequent and they too fall in love. Sadly, Isabelle dies from an infection and sends her child, Francoise, to live with Jeanne. Stephen then realises that this child was the result of his affair with Isabelle. ...read more.

Middle

Many of them did not even die in honour, they died from infections, or trench mortar shells; but only a small percentage died with pride, involved in the action, fighting on "no man's land." Both books were interesting to read due to the many implications of war. The battle scenes were detailed yet realistic, and all the way through the books, friendship was their main priority. According to B�umer, it was the voice of his companions that provided him with hope and dedication; "Suddenly a surprising warmth comes over me. Those voices mean more than my life, more than mothering and fear, they are the strongest and most protective thing that there is: they are the voices of my pals." I enjoyed reading the account of Paul B�umer because he often explained what he felt inside and how he felt about life in a very philosophical way. He wouldn't go straight to the point because often there was not a very definite answer to all his queries about life and death; instead he explored his deep feelings to find out for himself what was going on inside and all around him. The characters were interesting and all very unique in their own ways; all of them had a different view on each topic and were not afraid to express themselves. Most of the time, they each debate about general knowledge and put forward their opinions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stephen visits Isabelle for the final time; "He stood up and left the room without speaking...She covered her face with her hands." It is unnecessary for the author to explore how Isabelle presently feels as it is obvious and will spoil the effect it has on the reader. Stephen's two years silence after the war suggests that what he had witnessed over the past four years was unimaginable; and thus stunned him into silence until he had recovered from the affect. Unlike the ending in "all quiet on the western front", this gives a slight insight to the views of war. The ending to"Birdsong" was effective as it implied an end to the saga involving Stephen, Isabelle, Jeanne and Francoise and formed the start to a new era in which the daughter of Francoise gives birth. These books will appeal to any one who is interested in the details of war, life during the war, and the impact it had on innocent people afterwards. Both novels are written very well and they are easy to follow. The complex plot of "Birdsong" made you want to read on constantly, yet the simple plot of "all quiet on the western front" was interesting because it displayed personal emotions and views of the war. Both books give an insight into the tragedies of war. Risha Kumar Books reviewed: 1. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks ( Vintage, 1994) 2. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque ( Vintage, 1996) ...read more.

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