252 pages, no illustrations
I had attached myself to the birds. I couldn't move on until the birds moved on, and the birds couldn't move on without the spring. One winter, after an enforced period of recuperation, William Fiennes finds himself restless and yearning for adventure. He travels to Texas, where he begins a quest to trace the million-strong flocks of snow geese making their spring flight thousands of miles north to the Arctic tundra. On his epic journey he meets people from every walk of life, from ex-nuns to train fanatics, and their stories resound with the longing to arrive at the right place in the world. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Hawthornden Prize, The Snow Geese is a poignant and lyrical paean to the richness and wonder of the world around us. A unique blend of autobiography, travel and nature writing, this is a classic tale of belonging and the inescapable lure of home.
"Why are we drawn to birds, to landscape, to nature? It is for the sense of wonder – and in capturing that sense of wonder, Fiennes reminds us how desperately we all need it"
- Sunday Telegraph
"The Snow Geese moved me as have few other recent books. No one who reads it is likely to continue to look at the world in the same way"
- Times Literary Supplement
"A beautifully solitary and beautifully reflective book"
- Evening Standard
"The descriptions of the geese and their environment are jaw-droppingly beautiful. But Fiennes' most remarkable talent is for describing the quotidian with such freshness that it is like seeing the world for the first time"
- Mail on Sunday
"An inspired work of natural history and travel. A classic"
- Irish Independent
"With this beautiful, haunting debut Fiennes joins that small, very special band of writer-explorers – Emerson and Thoreau, Annie Dilard and Bruce Chatwin – who give us another pair of eyes: he has renewed the variety and wonder of the world"
- Marina Warner
"Fiennes is a very fine writer and this book is pure delight"
- Peter Carey, winner of the Booker Prize 2001
"This is a work of passion and knowledge that goes right to the soul of far-flung places. It feels "historical" yet at the same time has emotional immediacy, humour and tremendous love for the planet. It's a wondrous journey. Fiennes' evocation of the Arctic is brilliant, deeply moving. He simply knows so much, observes the natural world with such elegant turn of mind, writes so beautifully [...] Fiennes powerfully persuades heart and mind, and makes them fly"
- Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist and The Museum Guard
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William Fiennes writes for, among others, the London Review of Books, the TLS and the Daily Telegraph. He currently lives in London.