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The Snow Goose (1941)

by Paul Gallico

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1732613,080 (4.2)86
Against the backdrop of World War II, friendship develops between a lonely crippled painter and a village girl, when together they minister to an injured snow goose.

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» See also 86 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I was startled to find this volume on a bookshelf in my mother's apartment. It had been given to her mother 70 years ago by a friend who wrote on the last page "An interesting but pathetic story."

Just a few months earlier, I had tracked down a rough online copy of the British movie made from this story that, when it aired as a Hallmark television special in 1971, deeply affected my preteen self. Lately, I had become obsessed with seeing it again, but discovered the award-winning film with Jenny Agutter and Richard Harris was never (and apparently never will be) sanctioned for reproduction. Though I do not normally condone unauthorized copying, I was grateful to have the chance to spend an hour reacquainting myself with that influential picture.

Last week, book unexpectedly in hand, I gulped down the story in a matter of minutes, tracking the video version across the pages and finding only occasional alterations.

That is all to say any rating or review I impart on this book is inextricably tied to my first and second exposures to the story. I am happy now to know the picturesque and compassionate source of the heartrending film, and appreciate Gallico's genuine accounting in the original. Next times through I'll pace myself, allowing the words to repaint my mind's eye, so I can enjoy two visions of one moving tale. ( )
  scott.r | Nov 29, 2021 |
Another perspective on how war affects those left behind, WWII Essex coast version. Mostly about two lonely people, a little about Dunkirk. ( )
  fred_mouse | Oct 11, 2017 |
A sad story. ( )
  GeneHunter | Mar 13, 2016 |
Beautiful and heart-wrenching, but full of the reality of life and war. I try to read this every year around Christmas. I'm not sure why I associate it with the holiday. I have a vague recollection of my parents introducing it to me then. Beth Peck's lovely oil paintings add poignancy to the already poignant story. Oils are not usually my preferred medium, but they do the story justice with their texture and light. I always wonder what Frith does with her life after Philip and the snow goose are gone. My hope is that she honors their bravery and loyalty by living a good and honest life. ( )
  bookwren | Dec 20, 2015 |
Synopsis: They tell the story of the Snow Goose today in London, in Dover, in the Channel ports - wherever there are men gathered who say the mighty bird soar calm and unafraid through the leaden death and blanketing smoke of Dunkirk, and who owe their safety to the dark twisted man and the small boat that those great black-tipped wings convoyed. They tell of the Snow Goose, all they know of her; but what they tell is only a little of the story. The truth lies far from blazing Dunkirk, the terrible Stukas, the offshore transports, and the huddled men on the beaches. The truth lies in the distance Channel marsh , up a winding estuary away from the sea; and it involved not alone the Canada-bred wanderer of the airways, but Philip Rhaydar and the blonde Frith as well. Theirs is a curious story, wild and simple and strangely moving in its simplicity; and Paul Gallico tells it with his superb narrative skill and with a remarkable tenderness of vision. (from the inside of the book)

Review: This is a sparse book composed of lyrical language and haunting descriptions. The story is dark and yet, light, at the same time. In few words, Gallico presents a story of love, hope, death, courage, and healing. Set during in England during World War II, the story centers on the hermit Rhayder, the young girl Frithe, and the snow white goose that binds them. When the call goes out for boats to help in the rescue at Dunkirk, Rhayader answers - and the life of the snow white goose and woman-child Frithe are never the same. Worth reading. ( )
  empress8411 | Aug 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paul Gallicoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barrett, AngelaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my parents, Esther and Irwin Peck
First words
The great marsh lies on the Essex coast between the village of Chelmbury and the ancient Saxon oyster-fishing hamlet of Wickaeldroth.
He painted the loneliness and the smell of the salt-laden cold, the eternity and agelessness of marshes, the wild living creatures, dawn flights, and frightened things taking to the air, and winged shadows at night hiding from the moon.
Her imagination was captured by the presence of this strange white princess from a land far over the sea, a land that was all pink as she knew from the map that Rhayader showed her, and on which they traced the stormy path of the lost bird from its home in Canada to the Great Marsh of Essex.
Men are huddled on the beaches like hunted birds, Frith, like the wounded and hunted birds we used to find and bring to sanctuary. Over them fly the steel peregrines, hawks and gyrfalcons, and they have no shelter from these iron birds of prey. They are lost and storm-driven and harried, like the Princess Perdue you found and brought to me out of the marshes many years ago, and we healed her. They need help, my dear, as our wild creatures have needed help, and that is why I must go. It is something that I can do. Yes, I can. For once - for once I can be a man and play my part.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The original short story in The Saturday Evening Post (1940) was different from the expanded book version (1941)
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Against the backdrop of World War II, friendship develops between a lonely crippled painter and a village girl, when together they minister to an injured snow goose.

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Book description
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.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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