The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico reviewed on Fantasy Book Review
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, heartbreaking 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.
Pulizer-Prize winning 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. Cutting across ages, generations and paradigms, it portrays the inner beauty of Philip Rhayader, a man grotesque in appearance yet filled with the deepest compassion for all beings in distress, whether a wounded bird or wounded soldiers. The love triangle between Rhayader, the goose, and the child-woman Frith is unequalled in literature.
Paul Gallico began his career as a sports reporter until, in 1936, he moved to England and started writing fiction. In 1941, The Snow Goose was published by Alfred A. Knopf as a slim novella of some fifty pages and was Gallico’s first major success, being reprinted several dozen times in succeeding years. It was also Gallico’s only critical success; although he went on to write the hugely popular "Mrs. ‘Arris" series, as well as The Poseidon Adventure. The Snow Goose was, in Gallico’s words, "a once in a lifetime happening for a writer."