I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for The Goose Road. The book is out today, so you can now get your hands on a copy! Or, be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post.
The Goose Road is the debut novel by Rowena House and is being published by Walker to coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War.
I’m delighted to bring to you an extract from The Goose Road. But before that, I thought I’d share a bit of the synopsis and my own thoughts on the book.The Goose Road by Rowena House
Published by Walker on 5th April 2018
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction
France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. "I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either." But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears... In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother's flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.
Living in the French countryside, Angélique and her mother are working hard to keep their family farm running while Angélique’s father and brother, Pascal, are away, fighting for France.
Upon hearing of her father’s death in combat, Angélique finds that she must raise funds in order to keep their beloved farm afloat for her brother’s much-anticipated return home.
Having lost most of their livestock to the Requisition, all that remains are her brother’s prized Toulouse Geese. With her mother grief-stricken, it falls to Angélique to find the funds to save what is now her brother’s farm. Fuelled by sibling love and determination, she decides to sell the geese. But in order to attain the kind of money she needs, she is going to have to risk her life and take her geese closer to the front lines.
So, accompanied by her Uncle, she sets off to cross wartorn France with her magnificent geese.
Blending fact with fiction, House has created a beautiful, memorable tale. Through the character of 14-year-old Angélique Lacroix we embark on a journey into the terrifying unknown, driven by the love of a sister for her brother.
It’s a story that, although written for ages 12 and up, can be enjoyed by all. Angélique is a loveable character, a strong heroine who sets out to do what is right. Through her eyes we see the horrors of war, the toll it takes on survivors and the lives of the civilians struggling to survive. Personally, I appreciated the way the facts of the war were conveyed. I felt that it didn’t shy away from any truths but was conveyed through the eyes of an innocent 14-year-old, thus making it perhaps more manageable for the target audience.
Angélique’s love of animals stole my heart. I grew up helping on my father’s croft, so I could absolutely appreciate Angélique’s love for her livestock. I think House successfully portrays the importance of their animals, their livelihood and the impact that the Requisition had on small communities.
All in all, this is a powerful, beautifully written story. It’ll simultaneously hurt and warm your heart, and I challenge you not to fall in love with Napolean Bonaparte the gander!
That’s enough of my thoughts though. Walker Books have kindly provided me with an extract to share with you.
If you missed the first extract on the blog tour, be sure to check out Drinking Books to catch up.
My mourning dress is stiff and tight, a laced-up hand-me- down. Mother is almost invisible behind her long black veil. As we walk down the lane to the village through the warm, rosy dusk, I half expect a bat to blunder into her or a fox to stop and sniff the air as we pass.
Outside the church, the village widows flock around Mother like crows. There are Madame Villiard and Madame Arnauld, and poor young Madame Besançon, whose husband was just nineteen when both his legs were blown off at Verdun.
Old Madame Malpas draws me aside, wringing her bony hands and crying, “What’s to become of you, Angélique? You’ll very likely starve! La Mordue will go to rack and ruin without Monsieur Lacroix!”
“Pascal will be home soon,” I say. “Maman and I can manage till then.”
“Manage, child? When your corn’s still in the ground in August?”
“The farm men have been promised leave.” “And you expect the generals to keep their promises?” She sniffs loudly, then stumps off, calling to Mother,
“Madame Lacroix! What terrible news! Tell me, did he suffer?”
My best friend, Béatrice Lamy, hurries over to me.
“That woman!” she says, rolling her eyes. Then she kisses me on both cheeks and hugs me tightly. “This is unbearable, Angie. I can’t begin to imagine how you feel.”
Guilt prickles me because, just then, I’d been think- ing how much I hate wearing black and having to pretend to be sad. I wish I’d told her the truth before, but Mother always said the beatings would get worse if Father suspected we talked about him behind his back. And now it’s too late. I can’t speak ill of the dead, condemn a brave soldier Mort pour la France. What would
Madame Malpas say? “I’m fine, Bee,” I say. “Really, I am.” She cups my cheek in her hand. “You’re so brave,
Angie. I’d be in pieces if I’d lost Papa. How did you hear the news?”
I lean forward, hiding a smile, and whisper, “Pascal wrote.”
“Shhh, Bee. Not so loud.” I glance around, but the village women are too busy comforting Mother to take any notice of us. “Come on. Let’s talk inside.”
The cold stone church is empty. We sit in the front pew, the one allotted to the newly bereaved. Béatrice takes both my hands.
“Is Pascal safe?” she asks. “Is he hurt?” “I don’t know. Mother wouldn’t let me see his letter.” “Why not?” “Oh, you know. She’s upset.” “Of course. Silly question. I’m sorry.” Her eyes brim again with sympathy. Quickly I say, “Do you want to hear the good news?” “Good news?” Her eyes widen. I smile conspiratorially. “The farm belongs to Pascal now – the house, the land. Everything! It’s his.” “Oh.”
“Bee! Don’t you see what this means?” She shakes her head. “He can get married whenever he wants!” “Oh!” Her eyes widen further. “But … Papa won’t let me. I’m too young.” “Pascal will wait, I know he will. And when you’re both ready you’ll live with us, and we’ll be sisters, a real family. Won’t that be wonderful?”
Her eyes shine, then she blushes. “I do love him so much.”
We start to hug, but just then the door opens and the village widows seep inside like shadows, a horde of veiled and silent wraiths.
“I should go,” Béatrice says. “No. Please stay.” “But your mother…”
“She won’t mind.”
“Are you sure?”
I slip my arm through hers while we wait, each looking up at the brightly painted statue of Saint Joan of Arc, high on her pedestal. She’s wearing a full suit of armour, and spearing the devil through his blackened heart.
“I hate that statue,” Béatrice whispers.
“I don’t know,” I reply. “I rather like it.”
Thanks to Walker Books, I have two copies of this wonderful debut to give away to Strupag readers. To be in with a chance of winning simply enter via the rafflecopter entry form below. This giveaway is open to the UK only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway