Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Goose Road by Rowena House

Rowena House has such a simple writing style but she manages to pack so much heart into each and every page.   A Fiction Addiction

Blending real-life hardships and the horrors of WWI with an overarching fairy tale-esque adventure, this is a classic David versus Goliath story in which a girl steps up to fight multiple Goliaths with large doses of determination, wit and a willingness to take risks. Highly recommended. Love Reading 4Kids

Reading a whole book in one day is an indulgence but it also equates to a captivating plot. Angelique is living in France.  It is 1916. The family are only just surviving on their family farm. Her father has been killed on the front and her brother is fighting on the Somme. Angelique and her mother are very hard working but after their cattle and horses are requisitioned by the army harvesting seems impossible. Angelique writes to her beloved Uncle Gustav and he arrives and offers practical help (he made me so happy) but then Angelique's mother confesses her husband had terrible debts and they are not even able to pay back the interest and the debt collectors will show no mercy.

Uncle Gustav and Angelique set off to sell the family geese. They hope to obtain a high price by taking them to the front lines.  "Top brass, that's what we need - rich officers with more money than sense ... the richest pickings of all might well be at Frevent. ... (we will find) the Commander-in-Chief of the Battle of the Somme."  This is a long and harrowing journey and you will feel you are taking every slow and cold step with Angelique.

At its heart this is a book about determination and trust. Reading this book I kept shouting at Angelique to be careful. So many people who purported to be kind turned out to be cunning swindlers. It still feels slightly amazing to me that Angelique did manage all of those geese and she did sell them for an excellent price. Be warned though, the personal cost is very high.

This book is listed as 12+ but I think a mature senior primary student would cope with the descriptions of violence by Angelique's father and also of the maimed soldiers returning from the front lines.  Once again thanks to Beachside Bookshop for passing me this Advanced Reader Copy.  here is a detailed review.  At the back of the book the author note explains the inspiration for this story and details all the research Rowena completed. The authenticity of the setting shows how well she synthesized all this material into a gripping historical novel - but more than that it is a book that features a wonderful hero. I highly recommend The Goose Road.

"You can't herd the geese to the Front ... 
But you can buy them a railway ticket."

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