H Is for Hawk – by Helen Macdonald – independent book review – Fiction

Beautifully written and personal tale about grief, goshawks, and the English author T. H. White. But way too much detail about falconry for me. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.hforhawk
This is a beautifully written book about a young woman who turns to falconry to help her process the grief of losing her beloved father. When he dies, Helen, a promising academic, turns down a teaching job to devote herself to training a goshawk.
It’s turns out to be a deeply isolating experience that leads her further into depression, as she uses her relationship with the hawk to better understand her own difficulties accepting death.In addition to her goshawk, Helen has another companion. The falconry experiences of long dead author T. H. White, (best known for his Arthurian legend books — including The Sword in the Stone), are interwoven with Helen’s story. White’s early book about his own efforts at falconry was a kind of bible during Helen’s childhood. And she returns to the book and White, writing as much about his experiences as her own.

Interesting and unusual story, right? Unfortunately, I found I was not able to get into the deep level of detail about the sport of falconry, which is a big part of reading this book. Instead, I wound up skimming long sections and waiting eagerly for the end. I fully expect there are many who will pick this book up and love its precision. But personally, I found it became tedious.

Helen Macdonald

More about the author, Helen Macdonald.


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