“The people who remained in this place have often asked themselves why it was that Ibrahim went mad. I am the only one who knows, but I have always been committed to silence, because he begged me to respect his grief, or, as he also put it, to take pity on his guilt.”
Set in southwestern Anatolia (today Turkey) before and during World War I, Birds Without Wings is a wonderful novel about a small village and the people who live there. Prior to the war, the community is made up of Muslims and Christians, who live peaceably together. We have Ibrahim, a young Muslim boy who loves the beautiful Christian girl named Philothei. They plan to marry, but the war will forever change their lives and the lives of everyone in their village.
This was the first book I’ve read of Louis De Bernieres (who also wrote the notable Corelli’s Mandolin). To say I was impressed in an understatement. It is nearly the perfect novel. The characters are engaging and unforgettable. The story is riveting. The writing is so eloquent – few authors ever achieve such brilliance. And to top it all off, De Bernieres includes some very real history of an area that most of us (myself included), know very little about. Birds Without Wings is now added to my “favorites” list!
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2004