"Chick-lit" novelist writes book for chickens, literally

LINCOLNSHIRE, Eng. - It's a story like all the others written by Catherine Elliott, blue coverall chicken farmer and romance novelist. Her so-called "chick lit," stories of improbable love affairs that somehow work out in the end, are best sellers. But Catherine's latest work has found a new audience -- this is chick lit for chickens.

"They gazed at one another … his black eyes met hers and lit up with pleasure," her new novel, "Falling for Clooney," reads.

Clooney is a rooster. Think of it as 50 shades of eggshell.

"She took a step towards him, he crowed with delight."  


The chickens enjoy Elliot's book on tape CBS

It's ruffled a few feathers in the hen houses of John Paul McClusky's Happy Egg Company, which commissioned the story to be read to its chickens -- it says for scientific reasons.

"There's research based around that which says that birds which interacts with humans, the sound of the human voice, actually are much calmer and because of that produce much better," McClusky explained.

They can't point to numbers proving there are more or bigger or tastier eggs, but they have proved that people will pay about 10 percent more for what they think are happy eggs from happy chickens. This isn't all tongue and beak.

The happier hens and happier eggs and higher prices make happier chicken farmers.

The chickens can't get enough of it and they're not alone. Chick lit may have come home to roost, but the market's been greatly expanded. Hens may have trouble downloading the latest installment of "Falling for Clooney," but people are.

"It's good for humans, it's gotta be good for chickens…it's gotta be good for any sort of animal. I think they should read more," Elliot said.

We may now know why the chicken crossed the road -- to find out what happens next.

  • Mark Phillips
    Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.