The Varied Worlds Of Paul Gallico

By Bernie Bell

Paul Gallico is, I think, most well-known for writing  ‘The Snow Goose’ – if you’re lucky, you might get to read an edition illustrated by Peter Scott…..

What’s it about?  Exactly what it says……

He also wrote of the adventures of Mrs Harris.  To quote the man himself….”Mrs Harris was a charwoman of that sturdy London breed that fares forth daily to tidy up the largest city in the world.”  Mrs Harris is a solid, sound sort, and the books are solid and sound, too – with a big dollop of good-humour – much like Mrs Harris.

‘Love Let Me Not Hunger’ is a very different matter – a very different world.  It’s disturbing, very well written, but disturbing – more so for being so well written. It’s about – love – when it comes down to it.

And then there’s ‘The Man Who Was Magic’ and ‘Manxmouse’ – could be said to be children’s books – but I’m always reluctant to give those labels to good writing – some grown-ups haven’t lost the magic.

And his book of cat poems ‘Honourable Cat’….

Mr Gallico – likes/understands/appreciates/honours cats.

Presently, I’m reading ‘Jennie’ which is about a little boy, Peter, who spends some time…………being a cat – not through choice, far from it.  There are all kinds of magic in the world, and in the worlds of Paul Gallico.

It’s an extra- ordinary example of a writer being able to place themself ‘in the skin’ of another creature.  It is also disturbing in some ways – but at the same time it’s wonder-full – full of hope and…well – have a read.

Paul Gallico’s descriptions of the cats which Peter encounters while being a cat, remind me of ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ by T. S. Eliot – someone else who acknowledges the world of the cat –

…which was then made into a popular musical – ‘Cats’ – but I doubt that I need to tell you that!

I’m not sure how well known Paul Gallico is these days, but he deserves to be. 

I’m re-reading Jennie as, in these times of not going out to see what the charity shops have to offer, I resort to scouring the shelves for reading material – and I will then, I think, read ‘Mrs Harris Goes To New York’. 

Variety – is the spice of life!

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