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H is For HawkHelen Macdonald’s lyrical account of how she coped with the death of her
father by training a goshawk is captivating.

This is a memoir written from the heart, which is in pain and also one
that is in love with a goshawk. An astonishingly beautifully written book weaving loss, grief,
nature, love together with a lyrical style. I really liked the way she sets the background story of how she came
to fall in love with the goshawk.
There are some wonderful passages in particular – “falling in love is a desolate experience” and – description of equipment is brilliant and graphic. There is a beautiful description of her father taking photos of a sparrow and vivid descriptions of the goshawk which brings it to life for the reader. And the scene where the TV is on and someone else comes into the room. Or when Mabel (the goshawk) moves to stay with Tony whilst her coat sheds and you feel the relief and freedom of that occasion coming through the writing.

There are intimate moments shared with the reader when she tells the surprising news that she was born a twin
(since died). She finds huge comfort in aligning herself with T H White. 58 – she knows & admits that she is grieving and looking for a
replacement for her father.
I loved the descriptions of her meeting the goshawk for the first
time. She brings to life the bird and the reader feels as if they are
meeting it as well.

She is aware that she is finding solace in loving the goshawk whilst grieving for her Father and I felt she was trying to find peace like White did for his
homosexuality when befriending the goshawk. Her grief at time is nearly unbearable after the loss of her
father. Though I did find it odd that she choose a goshawk to adopt and train
as therapy.

It is hard to describe where you would shelf this book – memoir or
nature writing = in both. Its an ideal read for fans of Robert MacFarlane and anyone who likes nature writing.
An astonishingly beautifully written book weaving loss, grief, nature, love
together with a lyrical style.

Sheila O’Reilly
9780224097000/£14.99/Vintage

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