The Big Read 2013

Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

An epic tale of love and death during the Great War.

Set before and during the First World War, Birdsong captures the drama of the era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. Over the course of the novel he suffers a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.

2014 sees the anniversary of the First World War, and Birdsong is one of the best-loved works of fiction written about this turbulent time.

Sebastian Faulks was born and brought up in Newbury, Berkshire. He worked in journalism before starting to write books. He is best known for the French trilogy, The Girl at the Lion d’Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) and is also the author of a triple biography, The Fatal Englishman (1996); a small book of literary parodies, Pistache (2006); and the novels Human Traces (2005), Engleby (2007) and A Week in December (2009). He lives in London with his wife and their three children.

Whether you are new to the book or want to read it again, join us at one of our ever-popular Big Read book groups to discuss, debate or simply listen.

Download a sample chapter

Download the Birdsong reading guide


Whether you are new to the book or want to read it again, join us for one of our ever popular Big Read book groups to discuss, debate or simple listen. View dates

Discover more World War 1 Classics with free sample chapters:

  • A Farewell to Arms Hemingway’s intensely dramatic and passionate war-time love story
  • All Quiet on the Western Front The classic 1928 novel, written by a German veteran of World War 1, later banned and burned by the Nazi’s and hailed as one of the greatest war novels ever written.
  • Charlotte Sometimes Aimed at younger readers, with the story of a boarding school girl who mysteriously slips back forty years to 1918.

These novels will also be part of the reading groups.