Sebastian Faulks at Berkhamsted…

The novels of Sebastian Faulks are popular with members of Berkhamsted School (please see earlier post from Mr Steed with his reflections on Engleby).  Mrs Woodrow has just informed me that she has really enjoyed Faulks’s A Week in December and Birdsong.

Birdsong is the second book forming part of the French trilogy including The Girl at the Lion d’Or and Charlotte Gray, and begins in 1910…

“Set before and during the great war, “Birdsong” captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through 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.”  NielsenBookDataOnline

Mrs Maxted also thoroughly enjoyed reading Birdsong, feeling that it is a chronicle of  experiences which must have been borne by many.  Under the stresses and strains of war, nothing is normal…  We are so fortunate that, today, many of us have had no exposure to trying to survive a war.

A Week in December couldn’t be more different.  It brings today’s anxieties and concerns about how the modern age of technology and greed to the fore, and shows how  a group of individuals are affected – here’s a synopsis:

It’s London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Over seven days, we follow the lives of seven major characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV and a Tube train driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop. With daring skill, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life. Greed, the dehumanising effects of the electronic age and the fragmentation of society are some of the themes dealt with in this savagely humorous book. The writing on the wall appears in letters ten feet high, but the characters refuse to see it – and party on as though tomorrow is a dream. Sebastian Faulks probes not only the self-deceptions of this intensely realised group of people, but their hopes and loves as well. As the novel moves to its gripping climax, they are forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit.” NielsenBookDataOnline

Please let us have your thoughts about these novels, leave comments here.

Engleby (Sebastian Faulks)

“Mike Engleby says things that others dare not even think. When the novel opens in the 1970s, he is a university student, having survived a ‘traditional’ school. A man devoid of scruple or self-pity, Engleby provides a disarmingly frank account of English education. Yet beneath the disturbing surface of his observations lies an unfolding mystery of gripping power. One of his contemporaries unaccountably disappears, and as we follow Engleby’s career, which brings us up to the present day, the reader has to ask: is Engleby capable of telling the whole truth?”  Nielsen BookData Online

Mr Steed has sent us this review about  Faulks’s book ‘Engleby’:

“Based on the premise that childhood and school experiences are formative, this is a dark book that turns over the stones of the mind to see what lies beneath.The novel tracks the fortunes of an intellectual loner from a working class family, Mike Engleby,  AKA “toilet”, through school and university and into a “career” in journalism. There is an element of whodunnit about this well constructed novel, but it is Faulks’ close-observational and insightful social comment that make this a worthy read.”

Hmm, perhaps rather different from Faulks’s other books…  Have you read them and enjoyed them?  How does Engleby compare?  Read ‘Devil May Care’ – his first James Bond adventure?  Please send more reviews and add your comments here.