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The Snow Geese (2002)

by William Fiennes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3751353,294 (3.53)43
Snow geese spend their summers in the Canadian Arctic, on the tundra. Each autumn they migrate south, to Delaware, California and the Gulf of Mexico. In the spring they fly north again. William Fiennes decided to go with them and to write about his travels. What he produced turned out to be about very much more than geese. A blend of autobiography and reportage, its subject was also homecoming: the birds on their long journeys home, the grace of homecomings, the strange gravity that home exerts. The book thrums with ideas, with stories and anecdotes, with humankind as well as wildfowl, and with funny and observant insights. .… (more)
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» See also 43 mentions

English (10)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
A pleasant enough travel memoir about a young man, not a birder, who decides to follow the Snow Geese from Houston to Baffin Island. There are plenty of the requisite interesting acquaintances and plenty of nostalgia. Oh, and Zugunruhe, a lot of that. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Mar 30, 2021 |
The concept was promising, but the result didn't deliver. A book of pointless lists. ( )
  neal_ | Apr 10, 2020 |
This book was inspired by Fiennes read in of The Snow Goose when younger, and after a period in hospital, when he had a burning longing to return home to familiar and comforting surroundings. He wondered what drove the Snow goose to travel all across America, from Texas to Alaska.

Part travel book and part natural history, Fiennes follows the route that the geese take by coach, meeting a series of characters along the way. At each point that the geese move is determined by the conditions, so occasionally he gets ahead of them, and sees them arrive. In one location he is asked to house sit at one point by someone he has just met and goes out to the place where thy feed and watches them arrive.

It is a beautifully written book, and effortless to read. He successfully manages to link his longing to retuning home with the journey of the snow gooze and them instinctive drive to travel huge distances. Well worth reading. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Spending a long time rehabilitating at home following a serious illness, in his confinement William Fiennes develops an interest in his father's hobby of bird watching, and rediscovers a book about a snow goose from his boarding school days. When finally his convalescence is complete, Fiennes is no longer interested in applying himself to his abandoned PhD, feeling the need instead to rediscover life through an adventure. Fascinated by the migration arc of snow geese and unable to shake the story of the snow goose from his mind, he embarks on a journey to follow the spring migration path of hundreds of thousands of geese from Eagle Lake in Texas to their nesting site at Baffin Island in NE Canada.

Although Fiennes' story is about following the journey of the snow geese, in reality the geese are more of a minor plot device to give purpose to his travelogue. They are a catharsis for rediscovering life after illness has stolen time and life choices from him, and as he journeys he muses also about home, what it has meant to him through his convalescence and what it will mean to him in the next turn of life.

I thoroughly enjoyed my armchair ride up through the States and deep into Canada with Fiennes. Most often his travels brought him through sleepy hollows and towns off the tourist beaten track, where the fascination was in the ordinary life stories of the local people he met and stayed with on his journey. These were places I've not been to - North and South Dakota, Riding Mountain National Park, Winnipeg, Churchill, Baffin Island - and whilst nothing of any great excitement happens on his travels, he evoked great feelings of wanderlust in me through his writing. There's a wonderful fascination that travelling out of your own normal and into the complete unknown of other people's lives and environments brings, and it is the ordinary conversations and observations which make this book so enjoyable.

As a first book it's not perfect. In early chapters at times he gets completely carried away with his physical descriptions of people he meets and places he stays, overdoing the detail in a way that feels amateurish and distracting. A few chapters in and he seems to get into his writing stride, writing quite beautifully at times, so I feel irritated that his editor didn't demand a rewrite on the rookie parts of his early chapters.

All things considered I enjoyed this quiet, gentle journey, and if you enjoy a good travelogue I'd recommend it.

4 stars - imperfect, but enjoyable nonetheless. ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Feb 23, 2020 |
A gentle and multifaceted account of a journey following migrating snow gees through North America. The writing is elegant and the themes fit well together, providing a variety which maintains interest through what might otherwise feel a rather slow paced narrative. 25 November 2015 ( )
  alanca | Nov 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fiennes, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rooks, Ruurdsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, AliceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strasmann, IlseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for my mother and father
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We had no idea the hotel would be the venue for a ladies' professional golf tournament.
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Snow geese spend their summers in the Canadian Arctic, on the tundra. Each autumn they migrate south, to Delaware, California and the Gulf of Mexico. In the spring they fly north again. William Fiennes decided to go with them and to write about his travels. What he produced turned out to be about very much more than geese. A blend of autobiography and reportage, its subject was also homecoming: the birds on their long journeys home, the grace of homecomings, the strange gravity that home exerts. The book thrums with ideas, with stories and anecdotes, with humankind as well as wildfowl, and with funny and observant insights. .

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