Family book club faced a crisis last night -- several members had not finished the September book. Through adroit negotiations I negotiated a solution -- P picked the October book (short) by virtue of us having read it together over the past few weeks, X quickly read it, and we headed out for sushi to much rejoicing. Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose, illustrated by Beth Peck, provided a full meals worth of discussion and tangents, so I declare the intervention a complete success.
X officially disliked the book, shocked at the unhappy ending. The protagonist dies at Dunkirk, leaving the young girl bereft, and the goose disappears forever. P also expressed his dislike for the ending. I pushed the issue, asking what would happen next if the guy didn't die, and we got into a discussion of the creepiness factor of old people (really old -- some over 30!) who fall in love with children and then the children grow up to marry them. All three of us find that very disturbing. I mentioned Emily of New Moon's Dean and Bella's daughter Renesme as examples of creepiness in literature, and the boys declared that they currently had no teachers they intended to grow up to marry, which I applauded. So I said that maybe violent death was the best place for this book to go, since a reunion between girl and old guy could only be creepy, but at that point their love was still innocent. X seemed interested by the idea that death could be the happiest ending for a book.
We also talked about Dunkirk and World War II a bit, and the boys even put up with me reciting a few lines of Robert Nathan's Dunkirk and we talked about the battle and about the difference between the snow goose imagery and the idea of the ghosts of English admirals helping the kids bring their boat home safely. We talked a bit about Peck's paintings, which P and I had scrutinized as we read the book; X had assumed that the book was a collaboration, with the story and the illustrations informing each other (the story came first by many decades). And I ate a Hella Hot roll (yum) and we all declared ourselves happy.