Sunday 18 January 2015


2015-03    Paul Gallico: The Snow Goose - A Story of Dunkirk

Paul Gallico [1897-1976]
Paul William Gallico [1897-1976] was an American novelist, short story and sports writer. Many of his works were adapted for motion pictures. 
He is perhaps best remembered for the mini epics, The Snow Goose [1940] and The Small Miracle [1950], written in simple, lyrical prose and for the novel The Poseidon Adventure [1969] primarily through the 1972 film adaptation.


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 also leaves 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. 

"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 are perfect in the way they portray the remoteness and raw beauty of the Great Marsh."


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