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Birds Without Wings

by Louis de Bernieres

eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Birds Without Wings

I liked this.  I didn’t expect another Captain Corelli’s Mandolin for, after all the hype and fuss, how could he write an equal?  So I was pleasantly surprised this ambitious novel was so engrossing and intriguing.  I found the world fascinating as the Ottoman Empire collapsed and I found the characters intriguing.  You should read it; it’s good.

Sarah Broadhurst

Birds Without Wings Synopsis

Birds Without Wings tells of the inhabitants of a small coastal town in South West Anatolia in the dying days of the Ottoman empire: Iskander the Potter and fount of proverbial wisdom; Philothei, a Christian girl of legendary beauty who is courted almost from infancy by Ibrahim the Goatherd, their great love culminating in tragedy and madness; Karatavuk and Mehmet-ik, childhood friends who play in the hills above the town, Mehmet-ik teaching the illiterate Karatavuk how to write Turkish in Greek letters; the two holy men of different faiths, Father Kristoforos and Abdulhamid Hodja, who greet each other with the words 'infidel efendi'; the landlord Rustem Bey, his wife's adultery and stoning, and his journey to Istanbul in search of a Circassian mistress. It tells also of Mustafa Kemal, the man of destiny, who by virtue of military genius and sheer bloody-mindedness defeats the Franks and reshapes the whole region in his image.

When jihad is declared against the Allies the young men of the town are sent to war. Karatavuk soon finds himself at Gallipoli where he experiences the intimate brutality of trench warfare, the loss of many comrades and of his own innocence. As the great world intrudes, the twin scourges of religion and nationalism lead to forced marches and massacres, hunger grips the town and the peaceful fabric of life is destroyed. Epic, yet profoundly humane, Birds Without Wings is a glorious novel by one of our finest and best-loved novelists.

Birds Without Wings Press Reviews

'A more ambitious novel than Captain Corelli, and a better one' Financial Times

'A mesmerising patchwork of horror, humour and humanity' Independent

'A magnificent, poetic, colossal novel... Superbly written... It is, in every sense, a sublime book' Irish Times

'His most serious and ambitious achievement to date' Times Literary Supplement

'Pleasurable... Like Steinbeck, de Bernieres deserves praise for his imaginative sympathy' Independent on Sunday

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780099478980
Publication date: 04/07/2005
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780099478980
Publication date: 4th July 2005
Author: Louis de Bernieres
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 640 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernières is the best-selling author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best Book in 1995. His most recent books are The Dust That Falls From Dreams, Birds Without Wings and A Partisan’s Daughter, a collection of stories, Notwithstanding, and two collections of poetry, Imagining Alexandria and Of Love and Desire. He wrote Red Dog in 2001 and was inspired by the upcoming film about his canine hero to write this prequel.  

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