To many of us, the name of Sebastian Faulks is heavily associated with the conflicts of the past century. His famous trilogy, made up of Charlotte Gray, The Girl at the Lion d’Or and the infamous Birdsong – which has sold over 5 million copies in the UK alone – has cemented his formidable reputation as one of our finest living novelists, with a rare ability to combine genuine popular appeal with serious literary acclaim. It’s unsurprising, then, that Where My Heart Used to Beat, his highly enjoyable thirteenth novel, looks back toward the wars once again. After his father died in the First World War, which allows Faulks to explore its effect, the protagonist, Robert, is catapulted into the Anzio Landings of WWII in southern Italy.
This passage alone is decisive proof that Faulks is a master of his craft, as the focus on the small details, combined with jittery sentence structures that carefully mimic the chaos around Robert, is one of the most profoundly moving passages of prose written in the last twenty years – most probably since Faulks placed Stephen Wraysford in the battlefield at the Somme.
To read more of this review from former TSP contributor Nicholas Chapman, please check out the full article on The Bubble.