'Sebastian Faulks' novel Birdsong is one of the books that has made the strongest impression on me.
It is the story of the first world war in the trenches seen through the eyes of a young man against the background of an illicit love affair. It describes the horrors of warfare in intimate detail and the mental and physical suffering that the individuals concerned underwent.
The book shows the courage and determination and humour of those who lived through it and were lucky enough to survive, albeit deeply scarred.
Historian Simon Schama admired the author's powerful 'commitment to clinical precision', calling him the 'Flaubert of the trenches'.
I read the book shortly after the takeover of Forte by Granada when I was a little depressed. It taught me how lucky I was not to have lived through the first world war, or to have been in any war, and that my setbacks were extremely minor compared with many less fortunate people. This gave me the determination to start again and build a new business.'
Sir Rocco Forte is chairman of RF Hotels.