In 2009, I read and reviewed a classic novella, The Snow Goose, written by Paul Gallico. It was beautifully written, short and powerful, and a very poignant story. I copied the beginning of the book into my reading notebook because it so perfectly set the stage for this powerful story of loneliness and love and sacrifice. If you’ve never read the book, it should be read in one sitting and treasured on a quiet afternoon.
The Great Marsh lies on the Essex coast between the village of Chelmbury and the ancient Saxon oyster-fishing hamlet of Wickaeldroth. It is one of the last of the wild places of England, a low, far-reaching expanse of grass and reeds and half-submerged meadowlands ending in the great saltings and mud flats and tidal pools near the restless sea.
Tidal creeks and estuaries and the crooked, meandering arms of many little rivers whose mouths lap at the edge of the ocean cut through the sodden land that seems to rise and fall and breathe with the recurrence of the daily tides. It is desolate, utterly lonely, and made lonelier by the calls and cries of the wildfowl that make their homes in the marshlands and saltings–the wild geese and the gulls, the teal and widgeon, the redshanks and curlews that pick their way through the tidal pools.