'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 25 February 2019

Review: The Goose Road

This is journalist Rowena House’s debut novel. It’s France 1916. The First World War rages when news comes that Angelique’s father has been killed in battle. 

Her mother is grief-stricken but fourteen year-old Angelique is unmoved. Her memories of him are filled with his drunken physical violence against her and her brother Pascal, now fighting at the Somme.

Wartime is a fight for survival for most of the population. Angelique has promised Pascal that she will keep the farm intact until his return. 

But there are secret gambling debts left by her father. The first things sold by her mother are the goose eggs, which were supposed to be hatched and the goslings added to the existing flock. 

This catastrophe is closely followed by the loss of their corn crop after a destructive storm. Then there is the theft of her money from the milk sales at the market, by an abusive and violently vindictive stranger.

Only after the market episode, does Angelique learn that mother has kept a great many secrets from her, not even allowing her to read Pascal’s letters. After the Requisition takes away their animals and fortunately, not the geese, Angelique realizes something must be done to retain the farm for Pascal to return to.

Their only hope is Uncle Gustav. A monumental plan to herd the geese to a place where they can be sold for a high price, sets Angelique dressed as a boy, travelling across country with her uncle. It is a long and arduous journey fraught with dangers. No one is to be trusted during a time when desperation and hunger makes good people do bad things.

But the two are separated, and the geese are seen as food by countless starving.

Can one girl alone succeed in the seemingly impossible task she has set herself?

This is an exciting, wondrous and powerful story of courage, determination, family bonds and how war steals lives not only through death. It also reveals the surprising kindnesses and compassion shown by the most unexpected people.

Well-researched with a strong and gutsy female protagonist, the mesmerising prose will keep your eyes glued to the page. I loved it and read it in one sitting!

Title: The Goose Road
Author: Rowena House
Publisher: Walker Books, $16.99
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406371673
For ages: 12 +
Type: Middle Grade Fiction