Day 6 and that obsessive True Love is back in the poultry groove again. At least this time they are laying, so the eggs can be sold.
Though goose eggs are large and very rich and not to everyone’s taste. Possibly not an easy sell. Or even give away.
And they’re very noisy, geese. Better than guard dogs some people say. And they can be aggressive.
DAY 6 BOOK
This one is a blast from the past: The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. I read it as a child and wept buckets – but in a good way. It is a fable about the healing power of love with more than a nod to Beauty and the Beast.
It is set in the bleak landscape of the Essex marshes over seven years, ends following the hero’s death at Dunkirk.
Gallico was earning his living as a short story writer and that is how it appeared, in The Sunday Evening Post, in 1940. The Dunkirk evacuation was 26 May – 4 June 1940. He expanded it to a novella and Michael Joseph published it in 1941, perfect for paper-rationed wartime.
Local child Fritha finds a wounded snow goose and takes it to the reclusive, hunchbacked artist Philip Rhayader, although she fears him. She finds he is gentle and kind and helps to heal the snow goose, which then flies off on migration, and returns every year, as their friendship grows.
Then comes Dunkirk and Rhayader takes his small sailing boat to Dunkirk, with all the “Little Ships” that went to aid the evacuation.
He brings back many soldiers but dies in the process. The snow goose, which accompanied the boat, returns to Fritha. Now grown up, she realises she loved him.
Sentimental? Undeniably. But I think a book which has been loved so much over the years, and by so many different people, has to have come from the heart.
Rhayader’s lighthouse was inspired by Gallico’s friend Peter Scott who was receiving migrating wildfowl at his lighthouse in Sutton Bridge in the 30’s.
Ronald Colman read it on CBS radio in 1944. The 1971 TV film, starring Richard Harris and Jenny Agutter, won a Golden Globe. It inspired William Fiennes in writing his award-winning The Snow Geese and Michael Morpurgo in War Horse. It subsequently won the BBC Radio 4’s quest to find the most neglected classic, championed by Morpurgo. Thereafter it was dramatised for radio and is available to buy.
And if ever I mention it at a party there is always someone who says, “Oh yes, loved that story. I’ve never forgotten it.”
WHY READ DAY 6 BOOK?
Because it’s only 64 pages, so you can afford the time. And it’s uplifting and kind.
Because Gallico, a US former sports journalist, gets a hard time from various pundits. The style purists say he tells too much, instead of showing. (Plenty of showing, though, and admirably spare writing.) His critics say the sentimentality makes them wince. (Little Nell? Little Paul Dombey, anyone?)
Because it’s lovely. Keep a hankie handy.