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on December 31, 2015
A most beautiful and haunting story. The brevity of the book allows the story to stand lonely and starkly exposed. The worst actions of human beings; ridiculing an ugly crippled hunchback who cares for injured birds, butchering helpless men stranded on a beach in France.My grandfather was at Dunkirk, so perhaps the story has a special poignancy.
‘Men are huddled on the beaches like hunted birds. Frith, like the wounded and hunted birds we used to find and bring to sanctuary.'
Despite the ugliness, 'love' - innocent, ancient and pure, shines through. That man, no matter his circumstance, can create, inspire and express himself through art. Snow Goose was written in 1940, by Paul Gallico, an American living in war torn London. Perhaps the sentiment that duty to fellow man, no matter how you personally have been maligned, was needed as the UK too, stood alone. Thankfully the war didn't end as Paul Gallico perhaps foresaw where
'Nothing was left to break the utter desolation.'
You are left numb as you finish the book. Emotionally exhausted.
Then, as you reflect on the book, what first starts as a chink of light and then shining brightly, is the strength of the human spirit. Which despite the physical destruction of all, ultimately lives on brighter and unencumbered.
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on October 11, 2012
The other evening, I was reading a novel where a young English woman comes home to visit her father, and looks at his library which is filled with never read books, the works of Churchill and a 'sentimental story about a goose'. This caused me to smile and I realized that it had to be the famous Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, an American-born author, which took the world by storm on publication in 1941. It's considered a classic small story of Dunkirk which I couldn't remember and I decided to get a copy.

After some thought, I bought this beautifully illustrated version of his book by Angela Barrett, forgetting that photographs and illustrations can be even more evocative when added to a short text, and I caved in within less than thirty minutes. To sum it up, it was quiet mist here.

What is it about? It's this man, Philip Rhayader who was born as a hunchback, and how he comes to live in an old abandoned lighthouse by the English coastline near a small desolate village in 1930, shunned for his deformity and becoming a friend to all wild things who repay him with their trust and friendship. He has this wonderful gift as an artist, a great love for nature and he starts to paint birds, the landscape and sea around him while going out on his sixteen-footer boat at times and navigating through the marshes.

The isolated village comes to know Rhayader's ways with nature, and one day a young girl shows up with a beautiful wounded bird in her arms. The child is frightened but she is very anxious about getting help, and little by little, the reclusive artist restores the bird to health. The wild goose has flown at a great distance from Canada, and eventually becomes at home with both Rhayader and the young girl, Fritz, who visits over the next decade while the migrating bird known as 'The Lost Princess', brings the artist now in his 30s and young Fritz together in a mutual bond of affection, trust and harmony. And then one day, in 1940 Rhayader gets into his boat, trying to explain to Fritz that he is going to a place called 'Dunkirk', and asks her to look after his birds for him before he sails away. The snow goose soon also disappears in his wake.

The rest of this short story takes place at sea where men are stranded and in great danger while at war, and Rhayader joins in to help them while the men are startled by the appearance of a large white bird that is circling high around them in the midst of chaos and a storm. They feel this is a miracle of sorts, and one that they will relay later to their families at home on safe ground and remember forever.

When the snow goose finally returns to Rhayader's house and soars with outstretched wings to the skies above Fritz before vanishing forever, both the young woman and the readers know the truth. She slowly walks back to the lighthouse and tidies up Rhayader's studio while finding something that he has left for her. Some of you may feel reflective at the end of this story, but in the end, Gallico leaves it to everyone to interpret it in their way and come to their own conclusion, even offering to some readers a feeling of solace.

Sad as this somewhat forgotten classic may be, Gallico never lets his Snow Goose go for tragedy or despair in this tale of his. It is a story of truth and honesty, of faith and honor, the unspoken love between Rhayader and Fritz, now grown and her own quiet thoughts, based on a mutual feeling of tenderness and understanding, where the word 'Love' is never exchanged between them because there is no need. If there is a lingering feeling of regret in this story, it would not be for me to say. The late author Gallico has an uncanny way of coming up behind the reader, in his seemingly simplistic tales, causing one to feel moved and slightly unsettled at times, and while his books are enchanting and memorable when read as a young person, it is only when older that one can perhaps realize the full impact of what Gallico is saying, and based on the passing seasons of one's own life.

Reading what the other reviewers have to say about The Snow Goose is most rewarding, and for my part it left me reflecting again on how beautiful life can be, mysterious in so many ways, and that given the choice, one can usually bring everything back to the human condition in a myriad of different ways, and in one's own capacity.

To friends and acquaintances, here and overseas, past and present, a note of appreciation as we continue to go forth together, and last but not least, to those in Canada from where the snow goose hailed and who just celebrated their Thanksgiving earlier this Monday week.
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on December 22, 2017
What makes a good story? This is a good story. It is so simple in its telling. A lonely, crippled man, a young girl and a lost snow goose find themselves outcasts on the eastern shore of Britain. Over the years a friendship develops between the man and the child. As she matures the friendship deepens. He paints, she visits and the goose returns every year. Their lives might have been different but war broke out. There was hardly time for an adult relationship to begin. Really, what this simple book is about is heroism and love. What a wonderful story
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on May 17, 2015
I enjoy giving away a copy of this slender book now and then to a new friend who has never heard of it. To me, the book is a surprisingly suspenseful story about deep, deep love and constancy between a young girl and an older crippled artist. It is also a tragic story about war and how it tends to take away the lives of our best and brightest. The descriptive passages alone are as beautifully written as any I've ever read anywhere. It is impossible not to picture clearly in your mind, the dwelling where the artist protagonist lives, or not hear in your mind the loud greetings of returning birds he has tamed as they leave the sky and zoom down to his place for the winter. The last person I sent a copy to (for her birthday) said she was supposed to be packing for a trip, but when the book arrived, she read a page or two and then couldn't stop. The packing had to wait because she HAD to know the rest of the story, she told me.
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on October 28, 2017
Paul Gallico's Snow Goose was made into a movie which was shown in the Christmas season; it was a lovely film that seems to have disappeared. The book is poetical. It does give a picture of Dunkirk that needs to be kept in the minds of people who love history. It also makes one more cognizant of the burden the handicapped must bear throughout their lives. The Snow Goose should appeal to lovers of history, lovers of good writing, and lovers of animals. The book has a heart. It is a keeper.
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on February 3, 2018
I've loved this story since I was in junior high school many years ago, and it still carries an impact of love and tolerance that is especially needed today. I also was struck by the beautiful presentation of this book version. Obviously produced with great care by the publisher. A treasure that I am passing on to my Granddaughter and hopefully she will pass it on to her children.
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on January 7, 2018
Read this years ago and could not forget it. Whenever Dunkirk is mentioned, I think of this book. Now, With the movie showing up on my “ on demand” tv list, I was reminded of it again. And again it delights me. This is not an account of the whole Dunkirk picture. It is a heart warming vignette of two people caught in that time.
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on January 27, 2017
This is an awesome book, something from my early high school years, when my much loved teacher Alan Robert Taylor taught at the little central school in Binnaway NSW and read us this book over a few days. I wept then, I wept re-reading and the illustrations are incredible. I was so pleased to find something so precious.
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on September 2, 2013
So finely crafted it reads like poetry and easily transports the reader to a world that is both stark and hauntingly beautiful. A bleak place where a cast off man has taken refuge; a crippled artist with a great love of nature and humanity, who finds that love returned by a great winged spirit, and a waif of the marshes. He ultimately finds, when his world is threatened by a great enemy, that in spite of his handicap he can truly fulfill his role as a man among men, no matter the cost.

The evocative illustrations by Angela Bartlett are the best that Paul Gallico's timeless story has ever been paired with. Unlike many illustrators whose work often lacks the spirit of the tale to the point of distracting from it, Ms. Bartlett's art reflects and enhances the writer's words without taking the reader's attention from the story. This edition of The Snow Goose is the best yet, and should be considered required reading.
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on July 9, 2016
One of my favorite novellas; I found it to be excellent as a read aloud to 8th grade students for both history and ELA.
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