Summary and book reviews of The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

The Good Good Pig

The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood

by Sy Montgomery

The Good Good Pig
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 240 pages

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Book Summary

When Sy Montgomery opened her heart to a sick piglet she had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish. The Good Good Pig celebrates Christopher Hogwood in all his glory, from his inauspicious infancy to hog heaven in rural New Hampshire, where his boundless zest for life and his large, loving heart made him absolute monarch.

“Christopher Hogwood came home on my lap in a shoebox. He was a creature who would prove in many ways to be more human than I am.”
–from The Good Good Pig

A naturalist who spent months at a time living on her own among wild creatures in remote jungles, Sy Montgomery had always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. So she gladly opened her heart to a sick piglet who had been crowded away from nourishing meals by his stronger siblings. Yet Sy had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish–and she soon found herself engaged with her small-town community in ways she had never dreamed possible. Unexpectedly, Christopher provided this peripatetic traveler with something she had sought all her life: an anchor (eventually weighing 750 pounds) to family and home.

The Good Good Pig celebrates Christopher Hogwood in all his glory, from his inauspicious infancy to hog heaven in rural New Hampshire, where his boundless zest for life and his large, loving heart made him absolute monarch over a (mostly) peaceable kingdom. At first, his domain included only Sy’s cosseted hens and her beautiful border collie, Tess. Then the neighbors began fetching Christopher home from his unauthorized jaunts, the little girls next door started giving him warm, soapy baths, and the villagers brought him delicious leftovers. His intelligence and fame increased along with his girth. He was featured in USA Today and on several National Public Radio environmental programs. On election day, some voters even wrote in Christopher’s name on their ballots.

But as this enchanting book describes, Christopher Hogwood’s influence extended far beyond celebrity; for he was, as a friend said, a great big Buddha master. Sy reveals what she and others learned from this generous soul who just so happened to be a pig–lessons about self-acceptance, the meaning of family, the value of community, and the pleasures of the sweet green Earth. The Good Good Pig provides proof that with love, almost anything is possible.

Chapter 1
Runthood

Christopher Hogwood came home on my lap in a shoe box.

On a rain-drenched April evening, so cold the frogs were silent, so gray we could hardly see our barn, my husband drove our rusting Subaru over mud roads sodden with melted snow. Pig manure caked on our boots. The smell of a sick animal hung heavy in our clothes.

It did not seem an auspicious time to make the life- changing choice of adopting a pig.

That whole spring, in fact, had been terrible. My father, an Army general, a hero I so adored that I had confessed in Sunday school that I loved him more than Jesus, was dying painfully, gruesomely of lung cancer. He had survived the Bataan Death March. He had survived three years of Japanese prison camps. In the last months of my father’s life, my glamorous, slender mother—still as crazy about him as the day they’d met forty years before—resisted getting a chairlift, a wheelchair, a hospice nurse. She believed he ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Reading Group Activities

Sy Montgomery writes about “Pig Spa,” the hours of loving attention she and her neighbors gave to Christopher Hogwood that were as soothing and therapeutic for them as well as for the pig. Try your own version of Pig Spa with your own pets.

Bring pictures of your pets to your next book gathering and discuss how they have changed your lives.

Investigate volunteering at, or contributing to, local petting zoos or animal charity operations. Sy Montgomery suggests The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Rainforest Conservation Fund. What other opportunities can you find?

Plan a group fundraising activity such as a bake sale, garage sale, car wash, or bike-a-thon...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Moderately treacly at times, but overall, a charming book about a charmingly boorish pig. Fans of Gerald Durrell and James Herriot, plus any of the multitude who've made Marley & Me a bestseller are likely to enjoy The Good, Good Pig.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (411 words).

Media Reviews

Library Journal

All this is great fun to read, but when Montgomery talks about the "deep" life lessons,... the book treads dangerously close to becoming sentimental hogwash...one wishes for a little less treacle and a lot more of Christopher.

Booklist

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.

Publishers Weekly

The humor with which she recounts Christopher's meticulous eating habits and love of digging up turf is sure to charm readers.

Reader Reviews

Johanna J.

The Good Good Pig Is a Good Good Book
Most biographies are written about people's struggles through the hard times in their life or the joys they have had, but what about biography of a pig's life? Christopher Hogwood is pig that lives in New Hampsire with Sy Montgomery,the author of ...   Read More

Selene Booklover

The OK Pig
This was nominated choice in one of my book clubs. It wasn't chosen, but thought I would read it anyway. As an animal lover, I love to read books about people's pets. Although, I did enjoy reading the book, somehow the warmth, personality and ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, author, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who writes for children as well as adults. Among her books are Journey of the Pink Dolphins, Spell of the Tiger, and Search for the Golden Moon Bear. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, author Howard Mansfield.  More about them at their website.

Pigs in Literature
Christopher Hogwood follows a star studded cast of previous famous pigs - albeit most have been of the fictional variety.  How many literary pigs can you think of?&#...

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