Photograph: Martin Godwin

An adored aunt, an avid reader, recommended Birdsong to me; my copy was printed in 1994. Once I had read it (and I’ve re-read a number of times) I was hooked. The only one of Faulks’ books I haven’t enjoyed as much as the others is Girl at the Lion D’Or; I seem to remember it lacked as much punch (a flimsy protagonist perhaps?) as the others. I need to re-read it as I suspect I was endowing the girl with more sophistication than she had.

I went searching for my copy of The Fatal Englishman; alas alack, I cannot locate it! The book is, though, a trilogy of the stories of three young men who died young; it is poignant. Faulks manages to get right into the heart of his subjects and his ability to weave meaningful and exquisite tales around them is, for me, the epitome of literature.

The human condition seems to drive his writing. He writes about war, anguish, love, betrayal, reconciliation and is fascinated by the establishment of psychiatry and psychotherapy (Human Traces). His research is wonderful and his ability to live in other times — thus bringing them to life for us — is admirable. I have yet to catch up with a couple of his more recent releases. Shame on me. He wrote in the style of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, for that author’s centenary and it’s wonderful (Devil May Care).

Do not, please, watch the television version of Birdsong. Despite starring the talented Eddie Redmayne, it made a dog’s breakfast of the story. I understand there has been a recent project to film the book and Faulks said he was pleased with it, diplomatically side-stepping comments on the TV version!

I have a signed copy of A Possible Life. It’s coming with me when I step off the planet!

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