The Snow Goose
by Paul Gallico
Occasionally a story is written that is like a rare and exquisite jewel meant to be held with reverence and examined over and over to absorb the depths of its beauty. For me, that story is Paul Gallico’s novella, The Snow Goose. It was originally written as a short story for The Saturday Evening Post, but Gallico expanded it into a novella that can be cherished for its beautiful language and its emotional impact. It combines the tale of a hunchback with the love of a young girl who brings an injured Canadian snow goose to Rhayader, a recluse who lives in a deserted lighthouse near the village of Chelmbury on the Essex coast. He is an artist and a gentle soul, not at all fitting the image conjured up by the townspeople. When the call comes to rescue the stranded soldiers at Dunkirk, Rhayader has an opportunity to fulfill his potential as a man.
I read this book for my book club. It is only a thirty minute read. Before the meeting I read it again just to immerse myself once more in the beauty of the words, in a tale of love, friendship, and heroism that is such a treasure that you will wish, from deep down in your soul, that it were true. This book is moving, heart-wrenching, and full of magnificent word images. It is a story that will stay with you long after you gently close its pages.
Notes: 1. novella
2. I owe a debt of gratitude to the lovely ladies of my book club who contributed to this review through our conversations about The Snow Goose. I think you will find your insights woven into my review.
Publication: First published in 1940—Caramna Corp.
My copy was published in 2018 by Project Gutenberg
Grays and blues and soft greens are the colors, for when the skies are dark in the long winters, the many waters of the beaches and marshes reflect the cold and somber color. But sometimes, with sunrise and sunset, sky and land are aflame with red and golden fire.
Lately it served again as a human habitation. In it there lived a lonely man. His body was warped, but his heart was filled with love for the wild and hunted things. He was ugly to look upon, but he created great beauty. It is about him, and a child who came to know him and see beyond the grotesque form that housed him to what lay within, that this story is told.
With the departure of the snow goose ended the visits of Frith to the lighthouse. Rhayader learned all over again the meaning of the word “loneliness.”