One girl’s epic journey across France with her flock of Toulouse geese amid the terror and chaos of World War One is the subject matter of this debut novel by Rowena House.
It is 1916. News has just arrived that 14-year-old Angelique Lacroix’s alcoholic father has died in battle. The only chance Angelique’s family have of surviving the financial strain and keeping their farm is if she walks her geese across France and sells them for a significant amount of money.
Rowena House’s historical novel, inspired by her winning short story entry ‘The Marshalling of Angelique’s Geese’ in a competition run by Andersen Press in 2013, is both a historical journey into World War One affected France with the soon to arrive Spanish ‘Flu epidemic, and a charming personal story about a young girl dealing not only with the rearing of a beloved gosling to lead her geese onward on their treacherous journey, but also hunger, anger, violence, truth, and the unfathomable need for love in this world.
This book was a pure delight to read, which is surprising for me because I am one who normally shirks away from books involving war when I can. An easy page-turner with wonderful movement in the language like this:
‘I think of Emile, and his horror at watching that shrapnel shell screaming towards him. Does he still see it in his dreams? A shiver runs through me, and a twinge of guilt: I’ve never really wondered before whether Father saw the missile that killed him.
‘Maybe that’s why Mother wanted me to forgive him: not because of what he’d done to us, but because of the things he’d seen on the battlefield.’
Angelique’s journey is in turns inspiring and tear-jerking in ways I never thought I’d ever feel about geese. You yourself feel caught up in the journey, especially knowing that at the bittersweet end ownership and bonding with the geese must be sacrificed in order to save one’s home and family. Particularly, I will hold in my head forever the image of the tame geese wishing they could fly up in the sky with the wild geese they encounter on the way.
Ok, so go out and read Rowena House’s debut, I thoroughly recommend it.
Review by Penny M Geddis
The Goose Road
Author by Rowena House
Published by Walker Books Ltd