It was completely by mistake that I started reading Birdsong right before Veterans Day, and I am very happy it happened. It’s sad to report that I didn’t even know what this novel was about, I simply had it on order from my library, and it showed up. This novel is beautiful, horrific, and incredibly sensual.
While the majority of the book makes sense, time-line wise; I was surprised to be wrenched out of the war in 1914 to England in 1978. Elizabeth, a relative of one of the soldiers in 1914 is a well written character, and has some disturbing similarities to myself.
She liked living alone, she liked being alone. She ate what she wanted, not proper meals but plates of mushrooms and baked potatoes, grapes, peaches, or soups she made herself. She filled glasses with ice cubes and lemon slices, then poured gin over them, hearing the explosion of the ice, leaving hardly any room for the tonic water. She had plastic tops that kept the wine drinkable from one day to the next.
The scene that has struck me the most is when Elizabeth visits a war monument with thousands of names carved onto it. When she inquires about whether this is to all the fallen, the currator informs her that the names represent only the ones they never found. Elizabeth’s response is heartbreaking, and all to relevent to today; “My God, no one ever told me.”