One girl’s epic journey in the chaos of World War One
When you get to meet the people behind their pictures on Twitter or Facebook, clearly there is a nervous moment and then a sort of wonder and then, in this case, laughter and cake! But I’ll explain that in a minute.
Rowena House’s Goose Road is a tale of courage in the face of adversity, not just war but starvation, weather, and disease. It takes us from a farm in rural France, through Paris and onwards across the countryside through a war torn country constantly under threat from the German requisitions. At just 14 year’s old, Angélique is taking care of her family’s farm and desperately trying to ensure her brother has something to come home to when and if he survives the trenches. She is faced with unimaginable hardship as she takes a flock of geese across the country to sell them for the highest price she can get. She is assisted by her wonderful Uncle Gustav, who indulges her need to save her family farm.
Of course, with all the teenagers in the tale, there is gentle love story woven in amongst the rural landscape. Despite the ravages of war, there is still room for joy and happiness. But this is not a tale for the faint hearted. Rowena’s brilliant story telling lands us in all sorts of emotional trouble. Just when you truly believe that the world is going to give Angélique the support she needs, all our hopes and hers are dashed by the gritty reality of what it means to try to survive the war behind the lines. At one point, I was physically sobbing as Angélique seems to lose so much along the way and I wondered how on earth there could be any hope for her.
Of course, the story gives us a fitting conclusion – I’m not revealing it! You’ll just have to get the book. But this was a thoroughly engaging tale that really had me on the edge of my metaphorical seat. Rowena writes in a matter of fact way, there is no room for sentimentality here. You have to face the world and get on. Perhaps that is a nod to her journalistic past, as she is not afraid to confront some of the difficult issues of the day: inherent sexism, domestic abuse, famine and disease. It’s an amazingly researched book and set in the wonderful scenery of France which seems to stand out against the violent backdrop of WW1.
A fantastic read that should be in every school library and I have just recommended it to my Mum’s book group! This is not just for young people, it’s a tale for all.
Oh and Rowena is a true Tour de Force! She happily signed my book that I had taken along to a SCBWI South West Exeter write-in. We sat for ages discussing and chatting about many things. She was already working on her second novel and I for one, cannot wait to get my hands on it!
Who should read this book?
I would heartily recommend this for Years 7 – 9. There’s plenty of opportunity for cross curricular work in History, French, and Geography. Equally, so many interesting links to war poetry that you could happily use this book for a term, as it has plenty of opportunities for transactional writing.