The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
Philip Rhayader lives alone in an abandoned lighthouse on the desolate Great Marsh of Essex. One afternoon, a hauntingly beautiful child, Fritha, visits Rhayader, bringing with her an injured snow goose. At first Fritha is scared of Rhayader, with his sinister hump and crooked hand, but he is gentle and kind and Fritha begins to visit regularly. When the snow goose departs for home, Rhayader is left alone again. The following winter, the snow goose and Fritha return to the lighthouse. Time passes and one year Fritha is frightened to discover her feelings for Rhayader. But this is 1940 and Rhayader is setting sail for Dunkirk to help the soldiers trapped on the beaches. Fritha never sees Rhayader again. But the story of the saviour with the snow goose passes from soldier to soldier and into legend...
When you finish reading The Snow Goose you are left with conflicting emotions. You are uplifted, but the tragic events that have just unfolded will also leave you with a tear in your eye. The story of the man whose physical deformities prevent others from seeing the beauty within is as old as time but the way in which Gallico weaves it together with the maturing life of a young girl, the migration of a Canadian snow goose and the evacuation at Dunkirk make it unique. Touching, heart-breaking and at only 45 pages it asks the question why some authors need write hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages when a book this short says so much.
The Snow Goose is beautifully poetic; set prior to and during the Second World War it is written in simple, lyrical prose. The ending, a tribute to the indomitable human spirit, is unforgettable and the illustrations by Angela Barrett are perfect in the way they portray the remoteness and raw beauty of the Great Marsh.
A winner in Radio 4’s search to identify literature’s most neglected novel the short story was championed by Michael Morpurgo, the leading children’s author. He said: “I still have the copy with my 13-year-old handwriting in it. It is an epic story told in a very few words. I am pleased it has won because the short story has been a neglected form. It is a beautiful description of extraordinary affection between two people without that becoming a full-blown love affair.”
The Snow Goose is a powerful book, a book what you will be sad to finish and it comes very highly recommended.
Pulitzer prize winning author Paul Gallico is, alas, almost forgotten today; many of his wonderful stories, including the classics The Man Who Was Magic and The Hand of Mary Constable are out of print. But The Snow Goose has endured, and it is arguably his greatest work.
This The Snow Goose book review was written by Floresiensis
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The Snow Goose reader reviews
Douglas from New Zealand - Canada
I first read this work of Art in 1955 when I was ten. It is one of the most touching short stories I have ever read. To say it is Fantastic does not give it it's full worth. I have given away about 20 copies throughout my life.
Jane from England
Every child should read this or at least attempt to because its haunting beauty will enrich their lives ........
John from Australia
I actually heard and fell in love with the snowgoose story via an album my mother owns.Every time I have read it since I hear the beautiful music and the wonderful narration by Spike Milligan. Even though I am not old enough to have lived through the turbulent times that the story is set it still moves me, and yes I have shed the odd tear listening and reading it. To anyone who is thinking about reading this amazing story you will be surprised at what it draws out of you.
Redshark from England
I am a progressive rock fan and naturalist. I missed the Snowgoose book and the music album in my youth as I felt it too soft and I liked heavier edgier stuff. So, I decided to rectify this and am very pleased I did so. The music by Camel is beautiful and accessible with inspired melodies. The story by Paul Gallico is simple and short but skillfully written and deeply moving all the same. The illustrations in my copy by Angela Barrett bring the book to life - superb! There is a modern recording of the music but I didn't like it as I strongly prefer the lovely vintage sound in this case.
Brookestardo from United States of Australia
I would rate it a 6.9, but 7 was the closest I could get... ;( VSF
9.3/10 from 6 reviews
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