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Publisher's Summary

"Both heartbreaking and sharply funny...Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is brilliant and surprising at every turn." (Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist for The Great Believers)

A heart-tugging and gorgeously written novel based on the incredible true story of a WWI messenger pigeon and the soldiers whose lives she forever altered, from the author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

From the green countryside of England and the gray canyons of Wall Street come two unlikely heroes: one a pigeon and the other a soldier. Answering the call to serve in the war to end all wars, neither Cher Ami, the messenger bird, nor Charles Whittlesey, the army officer, can anticipate how their lives will briefly intersect in a chaotic battle in the forests of France, where their wills will be tested, their fates will be shaped, and their lives will emerge forever altered. 

A saga of hope and duty, love and endurance, as well as the claustrophobia of fame, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is a tragic yet life-affirming war story that the world has never heard. Inspired by true events of World War I, Kathleen Rooney resurrects two long-forgotten yet unforgettable figures, recounting their tale in a pair of voices that will change the way readers look at animals, freedom, and even history itself.

©2020 Kathleen Rooney (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Her well-researched novel touches on the folly of war (particularly this war), the sentience of animals, and - especially - survivor guilt and impostor syndrome. Rooney’s writing has a delicate lyricism...she injects humor and whimsy into an otherwise solemn story. A curiosity but richly imagined and genuinely affecting." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Imaginative and audacious...Rooney uses Cher Ami's bird's-eye view and curious afterlife to exhilerating, comic, and terrifying effect, while Whit's tragic fate is exquisitely rendered... Unforgettable... A celebration of animal intelligence, and tribute to altruism and courage." (Booklist, starred review)

"Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is a splendid novel; so smart, so beautifully written—a heroic tale of the cross-species relationship between pigeon and man during the Great War. Affecting and imaginative, this story vibrated deep in my heart because it all felt so very true." (Annie Hartnett, author of Rabbit Cake)

What listeners say about Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey

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Interesting historical fiction creatively told

I particularly enjoyed the two points of view used in telling this story. It added a lot to this story. It also makes it clear that this is fiction by the fact Cher Ami is so philosophical. However, I still feel some discomfort when fiction is written from the point of view of a real person. It seems unfair to give the public a feeling of know this individual when the depiction could be way off base, especially as it relates to their thoughts and feelings.

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A gem !

Loved learning about this battle. I loved the way the story was told by the pigeon and the major in alternating chapters. I will be recommending to many. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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Fabulous

This book was beautifully written and the narration was superb. I waited over a week to listen to the last hour and a half. Just didn’t want it to end.

1 person found this helpful