H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I was in the mood for some nonfiction, but didn’t have my TBR list with me at the library. So, I was reduced to browsing the library’s shelves (which can be especially difficult for nonfiction). Luckily, I saw this book and remembered hearing good things about it.

Published: 2014

Genre: nonfiction memoir

Length: 283 pages of text, 300 pages total

Setting: the English countryside, present day

This is a goshawk, in case you were wondering.

This is a goshawk, in case you were wondering.

Summary: Helen’s father dies suddenly, which puts her into a bit of a tailspin. She decides what will help her is to get and train a goshawk. She’s always loved raptors and is a falconer. This will be the first time training a goshawk, though, and they’re notoriously difficult. During the process, she compares her experiences to that of T. H. White, the author of several books, including one of his experience training a goshawk. Helen becomes depressed and starts to identify too strongly with her hawk, Mabel. She gets some antidepressants and slowly rejoins society and enjoys flying Mabel.

Final thoughts: This book had several threads flowing through it that would interest a variety of people. There was the thread of dealing with Helen’s father’s death and grief, there was training Mabel, and there was the biographical information on White. I found the grief sections the least compelling, but I’ve never lost someone so close to me. The book did make me want to read The Once and Future King by T. H. White. I’ll probably read it with Mr. Curiosity one of these days. It also made me want to fly a falcon. It seemed like a lot of work to train a bird, but so satisfying to be in some control of such a predatory, wild animal.

Overall, it was a nice change of pace from what I’ve been reading lately. The book didn’t have that pull to get me started reading, but once I picked it up, I had a hard time putting it down. I did enjoy the setting in England that was just different enough from what I know to make me go “huh!” a couple of times.

Title comes from: The book was all about training the goshawk, Mabel, at least on the surface

Reading challenges fulfilled: an M in my author Reading the Alphabet Challenge, and book #1 for the year

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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1 Comment

Filed under Book review

One response to “H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald

  1. I was underwhelmed by this one – probably because I read too many rave reviews before I read it!

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