Although my backlog of reviews is rapidly mounting up, I couldn’t let this flurry of snow pass us English folk by without mentioning the perfectly apt and beautifully written novelette I read this week. Even though Manchester seems to be the only place in the UK not hit by huge waves of snow, at least I can close my eyes and dream with Snowflake by Paul Gallico.
Lovely little brother Relish, in his thoughtful way, bought this first edition for me for Christmas. Paul Gallico is always an absolute treat yet, although being well acquainted with his other short stories - The Snow Goose and The Small Miracle, I’d never heard of this little gem of a book before.
Tumbling through the pale wintry sky, we follow Snowflake through her short life, from the hillsides of a mountain village to the great, stormy sea from which she finally evaporates. On the way she experiences the full range of human emotion; from great sadness and fear to deep love and contentment. From floating placidly around lakes to fighting great fires, Snowflake even has time to have children with her great love ‘Raindrop’ … in-between musing on the meaning of life, that is.
This book is simple, beautiful and very special, both inside and out. The frequent references to ‘He’; i.e. the creator whose great universal plan both bewilders and thrills little Snowflake, comes on a little strongly at times for an agnostic like myself. However, having said that, Gallico’s characteristic focus on the small joys in life is as heartwarming as always and it is clear that the way Snowflake’s short, humble, life mirrors our own could offer untold comfort to those who need it. Paul Gallico is a hugely underrated author…perhaps it’s not fashionable to write ‘nice’ books anymore? At Relish towers he will always be considered a firm favourite, particularly wherever a cat is involved (see Jennie and Thomasina). Needless to say, if you need cheering up – Gallico is your man.