The Snow Geese (Paperback)
|Format:||Paperback 200 pages|
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WINNER OF THE HAWTHORNDEN PRIZE SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE SUNDAY TIMES YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR One winter, after an enforced period of quiet, William Fiennes finds himself restless and yearning for adventure. Inspired by his reading about the migratory patterns of birds, he flies to Texas to find the million-strong flocks of snow geese and to follow them on their spring flight thousands of miles north to breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra. This mesmerizing book, already a classic, captures their journey with wisdom, humility and endless curiosity. It is a meditation on freedom of movement, on seeing the world anew, and on the joy of returning -- indefinably changed. 'Why are we drawn to birds, to landscape, to nature? It is for the sense of wonder -- and in capturing that sense of wonder, Fiennes reminds us how desperately we all need it' Sunday Telegraph 'The Snow Geese moved me as have few other recent books. No one who reads it is likely to continue to look at the world in the same way' Times Literary Supplement 'A beautifully solitary and beautifully reflective book' Evening Standard 'The descriptions of the geese and their environment are jaw-droppingly beautiful. But Fiennes' most remarkable talent is for describing the quotidian with such freshness that it is like seeing the world for the first time' Mail on Sunday 'An inspired work of natural history and travel. A classic' Irish Independent
Publisher and industry reviews
'With this beautiful, haunting debut Fiennes joins that small, very special band of writer-explorers - Emerson and Thoreau, Annie Dilard and Bruce Chatwin - who give us another pair of eyes: he has renewed the variety and wonder of the world' Marina Warner 'Fiennes is a very fine writer and this book is pure delight' Peter Carey, winner of the Booker Prize 2001
UK Kirkus review
This is a marvellous tale, part travelogue, part autobiography, which owes its existence to the Earth's tilt, its origins to Fiennes's long period of illness, and its inspiration to the Paul Gallico story The Snow Goose. The tilt is the reason that the climate in most parts of the world becomes welcoming and inhospitable by turns. Birds, like rich Canadians, cope with this by migrating to the Caribbean for the winter. Yet like humans they have a deep urge for home. Fiennes, whose desire to go home whilst ill had been supplanted by a quest for adventure, a return from the state of being ill, decided to follow their route back across the Americas, from the Gulf coast of Texas to the Foxe Peninsula on Baffin Island. The result is this gently meandering saga of his wanderings across the US, interspersed with musings on the birds' astonishing navigation capabilities, and with chunks of avian lore, historical and geographic detail, natural history, meteorological understanding and scientific knowledge melting into the text. Throughout the reader is aware of the undercurrent of Fiennes's interest: the lure of home to one away (it is surely no coincidence that Fiennes reveals that he was sent to boarding school at age eight), contemplations which take in the origins of nostalgia as an ailment, the depiction of homesickness by physicians in the Napoleonic wars as a contagious disorder, the plight of the Greek heroes of the Odyssey and the tendency of the first immigrants to the US to endow their new home with the names of the old, travelling with proper nouns as though they were personal effects. Fiennes has immense narrative power and a remarkable talent for encapsulating his characters in small details - the way his father steadies himself against a wall to unlace his boots, the Texan whose coats hang from a rack of antlers, the ex-nun now ablaze with primary colours. Some people are captured by their possessions: a bumper sticker reading 'There's No Place Like Narnia', a postcard of Mickey Mouse's washing machine, a book called Getting the Most Out of Your Lathe, a homemade device for launching mortar attacks on potatoes. Characters he meets are meticulously described, their conversation precisely logged, their own stories brought to life; yet of Fiennes himself there is curiously little sense, except as the boy returning finally to home. (Kirkus UK)
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