- Hardcover: 250 pages
- Publisher: Picador (22 Mar. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330375784
- ISBN-13: 978-0330375788
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 665,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Snow Geese Hardcover – 22 Mar 2002
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Even without the unbridled enthusiasm of such writers as Peter Carey and Marina Warner that emblazon the jacket, a few pages of William Fiennes The Snow Geese would instantly alert the reader that this is something very special indeed. A remarkable piece of natural history and a striking book about the very notion of wandering, this is considerably more than travel writing; it is, in fact, a poetic vision that evokes the splendours and terrors of the Canadian Arctic in a fashion that goes beyond mere description. Perfectly judged prose gives a vision of the natural world that transports the reader utterly.
Snow geese spend each summer in the Canadian Arctic on the Tundra. Every autumn they migrate south to Delaware, California and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the spring they wing northwards again. Fascinated by this, William Fiennes made the decision to go with them and write about his travels. But the result turned out to be about so much more than the migration of geese. This synthesis of autobiography and reportage settles into its real subject swiftly: homecoming, and the powerful pull of the concept of home that motivates us all. The authors daunting physical adventure is also a meditation on the philosophy of natural science and even the act of autobiography. The sheer energy of the book is mesmerising, and however subtle the writing, we read on transfixed--always relating these strange odysseys to our own travels in the world. The Snow Geese may change your very perception of what home means to you. --Barry Forshaw
... best writing... No one who reads it is likely to look at the world in the same way. -- TLS, April 2002
... quirky and autobiographical first book... capturing that sense of wonder... -- The Sunday Telegraph, March 24 2002
... superlative debut, delicate and profound and utterly readable. -- The Tablet, April 2002
A generosity of spirit... most attractive features... The playful interweaving... gives book its charm -- Independent A, April 2002
He is a writers' writer and his lyrical, poetic account of a journey... is a beautiful piece of prose that deserves to win awards. -- Roger Tagholm, Publishing News, 15 Feb 2002
Marvellous... entirely his own -- New Statesman, April 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
A fantastically inspiring book to read whilst commuting - real escapism, better than any "sex and shopping" dreck, this takes you out of your grimy tube carriage to the clean open spaces of the arctic tundra. Such a beautiful and moving book, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Fiennes is a superb writer - I have rarely read such wonderfully descriptive prose. For example this description of a rotund man met in a railway carriage: "He stood up and walked towards the end of the car, his rolling gait accentuated by the rocking motion of the train. A leather belt, like the ribbon round a gift plum pudding, encircled Marshall at his widest point - an equatorial band that marked out his northern and southern hemispheres." This is writing to savour and admire.
He is also excellent at reproducing conversations. The speech sounds utterly authentic, no easy task given the variety of people he encounters on his journey north.
One very minor criticism: the extremely detailed descriptions can become too much by the end giving you verbal indigestion. The book could have been cut by about 40 pages for the better.
The author notices everything. You have a sense of him as almost silent, except for what he writes. He absorbs you with his descriptions of places and other people, delighting your soul with the accuracy of his observations.
It's a peaceful book, restorative, hopeful and uplifting. You give a sigh of satisfaction at the end of the book, glad for having experienced it.
The author of this autobiographical account is recovering from a debilitating illness which derailed his young adulthood and left him physically weak and emotionally vulnerable. In this precarious mental state, he conceives the idea of celebrating his recovery with a solo journey inspired by Paul Gallico's book "The Snow Goose" which had a profound impact on his young mind. So Fiennes sets off to follow the migration of snow geese from their winter quarters in Southern Texas all the way to their summer breeding grounds near the Hudson Bay in Canada. The resulting book is part travelogue, part scientific treatise on the migratory habits of birds and of this particular species of snow goose, and also a personal insight into the wider question of "homesickness" in humans.
I am rather on the fence about it. I enjoyed parts of it immensely but found other parts overblown. There is no question in my mind that Fiennes can write beautifully; some of his turns of phrase are refreshingly novel and he is able to describe passing characters in delightful and insightful detail with just a few words. His descriptions of locations and of the snow geese en masse can be lyrically poetic and his spiritual journey has a certain pathos. I felt he dealt with what must have been a pretty fundamental psychological crisis with both restraint and a diffident common touch.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lovely, touching account of a young man's unfolding story, as he progresses northwards with the geese. Great people he met, described very well.Published 4 days ago by Anni of MK
Some parts are very moving and evocative. The early part of the book of found lecture like in the listing of birds and repetitive. Read morePublished 12 months ago by jane godfrey
I felt this book lacked a coherent narrative thread. Nothing much happened. No big idea emerged until halfway through. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Diana
This book was chosen for our book reading group. Most of us had read Paul Gallico's book The Snow Goose and decided to discuss the reasons behind William Fiennes' book and why he... Read morePublished 16 months ago by patricia stocks
This is a book that I liked reasonably well at the time of reading, but have no desire to revisit. It is a personal and heart-felt account of the author's fight to recover from a... Read morePublished on 4 Jan. 2014 by Kirwan
The book, sadly was not what I was expecting, I therefore found it very dull and did not really interest me.Published on 4 Nov. 2013 by Ivor Cheney
Book in great condition, cheap,arrived in good time and i will be passing it on after discussion at book club on saturdayPublished on 28 Oct. 2013 by betty robinson