The Good Good Pig
Ballantine/Random House, 2006
The Good Good Pig

“Montgomery’s books on exotic wildlife (Journey of the Pink Dolphins, etc.) take her to the far corners of the world, but the story of her closest relationships with the animal kingdom plays out in her own New England backyard. When she adopts a sickly runt from a litter of pigs, naming him Christopher Hogwood after the symphony conductor, raising him for slaughter isn’t an option: Montgomery’s a vegetarian and her husband is Jewish. Refitting their barn to accommodate a (mostly) secure sty, they keep Christopher as a pet. As he swells to 750 pounds, he becomes a local celebrity, getting loose frequently enough that the local police officer knows to carry spare apples to lure him back home. The pig also bonds with Montgomery’s neighbors, especially two children who come over to help feed him and rub his tummy. Montgomery’s love for Christopher (and later for Tess, an adopted border collie) dominates the memoir’s emotional space, but she’s also demonstrably grateful for the friendships the pig sparks within her community. The humor with which she recounts Christopher’s meticulous eating habits and love of digging up turf is sure to charm readers.”
—Publisher’s Weekly


“Animal lovers, prepare to be seduced by Christopher Hogwood.”
—USA Today


“The porcine Marley & Me.”
—Wall Street Journal


“What makes The Good Good Pig so much better than cute is Montgomery’s loving and funny evocation of her dear departed 750-pound squeeze.”
—O Magazine


“The lovely true tale of the enormous, amiable porcine personality.”
—Christian Science Monitor


“Summer really isn’t summer without one delightful true tale of a smelly yet charming pet.”
—Chicago Tribune


“Grown-up fans of children’s favorite Charlotte’s Web won’t be able to resist this grown-up story of a rescued piglet who achieves hog heaven on Earth.”
—New York Post


“If pigs are bright, Christopher was a genius.”
—Boston Globe


“Touching, deeply satisfying, even spiritual.”
—Newsday


“It will change the way you look at humans’ co-existence with animals.”
—Rocky Mountain News


“A sweet and funny story….Keep a Kleenex handy.”
—Charlotte Observer


“[A] unique and beautifully written memoir, already one of the most talked-about books of the summer.”
—BookPage


“Montgomery’s charming memoir might have you renouncing bacon for good.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune


“No less an authority than the great biologist E. O. Wilson has affirmed the significance of our intrinsic affinity for other living organisms, our biophilia, and it’s obvious from naturalist Montgomery’s unforgettable books about tigers, pink dolphins, and the golden moon bear that she is an animal lover of the first order. Now she chronicles the life of the animal her life revolved around for 14 years, a pig named Christopher Hogwood: 750 pounds of bliss, affection, and good cheer. Even as a runt he had a special aura, and once Montgomery and her husband, the writer Howard Mansfield, nursed him into robust health on their New Hampshire homestead, he proved to be an exceptionally intelligent, sociable, and loving companion, if rather demanding. It took a village to keep Christopher fed and entertained, and Montgomery’s descriptions of Christopher’s amazing adventures and celebrity status are hilarious, enchanting, and deeply affecting. Joyful and serene, smart and friendly, Christopher soothed many a troubled heart, and Montgomery writes with extraordinary lucidity, candor, and grace about what this good, good pig taught her and others about life, love, happiness, and all that we share with our fellow species on this precious planet.”
—Donna Seaman, BOOKLIST, Starred Review

She adds this note for Young Adult Readers: The pig and Montgomery’s revelations about her young self and the young characters will be of keen interest. DS.


“The author (Search for the Golden Moon Bear, 2002, etc.) and her husband rescued a runt covered with black and white spots and named him after Christopher Hogwood, a noted conductor, musicologist and exponent of early music. They took the pig home to their New Hampshire farm, fully expecting him to stay modest of proportion. Fat chance. Succored by the author’s loving attention, Hogwood quickly put on 700 pounds and started to act like a pig, his musical affinities confined to a gamut of sonorous grunts. Montgomery reverently chronicles her charge’s behavior. He is diabolically smart, notorious for his neighborhood trespasses. He works his snout like a force of nature; practically dissolves when his belly is rubbed; and is worthy of performance-artist status as an eater. In his exuberant passage through life, he sets a standard by which Montgomery can measure her own comportment. In particular, he teaches someone keen on animals and leery of people how to be comfortable in the presence of human beings. ‘Animals had always been my refuge, my avatars, my spirit twins,’ the author writes. When someone asks what she is going to do with her pig, she is tempted to inquire, ‘What are you going to do with your grandson?’ While death haunts this book from start to finish, Montgomery learns a good deal from Hogwood about celebrating the evanescent pleasures of living.

May well spark a stampede in porcine acquisitions, not as consumables, but as companions.”
—Kirkus, Starred Review


Advance Praise for The Good Good Pig

“This is a book not so much about a barnyard animal as about relationships, in all their messy, joyous and heartbreaking complexity. In loving yet unsentimental prose, Sy Montgomery captures the richness animals bring to the human experience. Sometimes it takes a too-smart-for-his-own-good pig to open our eyes to what most matters in life. The Good Good Pig is a good, good book, beautifully rendered and filled with wondrous surprises. I will never forget Christopher Hogwood.”
—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog


“I LOVE this book! It takes us into the world of one pig with such delicacy, such gentleness and yet such depth, that you will never be able to look a pig in the eye again without recognizing the unique person living within. You become somebody who sees why Sy Montgomery loved a pig beyond all measure. When you finish her book, so will you.”
—Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D.,author of When Elephants Weep and The Pig who Sang to the Moon


“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Sy Montgomery’s story of Christopher the pig. The love affair between dogs and cats and people is richly documented. Pigs are another matter. What I found was a charming, touching, funny and ultimately very powerful tale of an extraordinary, even complicated pig and his impact on some very loving, perceptive and extraordinary people. This story is heartwarming but packs a wallop. The Good, Good Pig is a very welcome and original addition to the best stories about the remarkable bond between some people and some animals, and Sy Montgomery has done her pig well.”
—Jon Katz, author of Katz on Dogs and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm


“Poetic, insightful, funny and deeply moving.”
—Vicki Constantine Croke, author of The Lady and the Panda


“Entertaining, instructive, hilarious, and yes, heartwarming, this book is a Life Force. Christopher Hogwood now belongs to all of us.”
—Brenda Peterson, author of Build Me an Ark, Sister Stories, and Duck and Cover


“Few writers—or human beings—fuse intelligence and heart as completely as Sy Montgomery. Her sentences are lush, exotic, thrilling. Her stories are fabulously odd and galvanizing. With The Good, Good Pig, Sy brings us her greatest adventure of all—a grand cocktail of family, community, love, and wisdom that introduces one of the most indelible characters in recent literary history, the completely companionable and entirely self-effacing Christopher Hogwood.”
—Beth Kephart, author of Ghosts in the Garden, Seeing Past Z, and Still Love in Strange Places