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H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

H Is for Hawk (2014)

by Helen Macdonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,4451743,624 (3.85)1 / 358

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English (171)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (174)
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so bloody English. but her voice is nice. ( )
  adaorhell | Aug 24, 2018 |
I do not read enough non-fiction. When I come to a book like this one, it makes me wonder why. Helen Macdonald has written a marvelous chronicle of her journey from grief to acceptance, achieved through the training of a goshawk.

When Helen loses her father, she loses her stability. He has been her friend and mentor, and in many ways she has patterned her life after his. The loss seems insurmountable. Having a background in and love of falconry, she decides to get a goshawk from a breeder in Ireland and train the hawk to hunt. Her true purpose, besides the training of the hawk, is to lose herself in the activity and life of the bird and cease to feel her own sorrow and loss.

Parallel to Helen's story, she tells us the story of T. H. White, the author who wrote [b:The Sword in the Stone|316845|The Sword in the Stone (The Once and Future King, #1)|T.H. White|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1355212194s/316845.jpg|2457438], but also the author of [b:The Goshawk|1188127|The Goshawk|T.H. White|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1320461488s/1188127.jpg|105249]. When Helen was quite young, she read The Goshawk and much of her interest in falconry was born there. What is interesting is that White was not detailing the proper way to train a hawk. Everything he does with his hawk is wrong. He is a master of mistakes and miscues.

As we get to know Helen and her hawk, Mabel, we also get to know White and his hawk, Gos. The comparison can be made in the training certainly, but there is much more at the heart of what both of these people expect to get from these wild creatures that they take into their lives. Helen is lost because she has been deprived suddenly of the man who figures most prominently in her life and White is trying to exorcise the demons that come from feeling a childhood abandonment and being homosexual in a world that neither understands nor wishes to understand homosexuality.

For those of you who know me at all, you will know that Merlin is one of the characters of literature that speaks to me personally. I have loved the idea of him since my own childhood. This book shed some light for me on why White's Merlyn (his spelling) is so different than the Merlin of legend and Mary Stewart. I found this part of the book particularly fascinating and it has inspired me to re-read White's [b:The Once and Future King|43545|The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King #1-4)|T.H. White|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1338741283s/43545.jpg|1140206]. I think I will bring something different to the read this time than I did before...thanks to Helen Macdonald.

If you have ever lost a father, or anyone you loved and respected, you will find much to hold on to here. If you have ever felt different, apart, or wondered at the part of you that is cruel or unkind or protective, you will find something to hold on to here. If you have ever thought you would like to soar with a bird, lose yourself in the wildness of nature or simply disappear, you will find something to speak to you here.

Reading this book was like opening a gift, wrapped in shiny tinsel and paper, and finding inside something you desperately wanted but did not know existed. Highly recommended. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
H is for Hawk is a difficult book to properly describe. It's a memoir about Helen Macdonald going through the painful grieving process after her father passes away. It's a guide about raising a goshawk and the requirements and necessities of training and owning a falcon. It's a biography of TH White, author of the Once and Future King, and his experience with his goshawk, Gos. It is all of these things, interwoven so well, yet more. Macdonald's relationship with Mabel, the goshawk, is compelling and fascinating. A deep, quiet, thoughtful, and beautifully written book that moved me. Not for everyone, but five stars for me. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 1, 2018 |
A best seller that lives up to its hype. ( )
  DanDiercks | Jun 21, 2018 |
For a while, it seemed as if [b: H is For Hawk|18803640|H is for Hawk|Helen Macdonald|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1442151714s/18803640.jpg|26732095] was everywhere. Its striking cover haunted me, and I heard endless praise being heaped upon it. At first I was quite excited to read it - a book about hawks and falconry! - and then I learned it was a memoir and my interest began to fade. I forgot about it for a while, but the book did not forget about me. It followed me still, in GoodReads updates and awards, in libraries and on bookshelves.

Sighing, I decided to do the one thing I could to excise it from my mind. I picked it up and resigned myself to reading it.

Surprise, surprise. It was a book about goshawks and falconry, the history of falconry and what drives people to practice it. It was also a book about [a: T H White|17406172|T H White|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png], and what drives people to write and write about animals. It was also about the loss of the author's father, and how she dealt with it. It was a difficult book for me to read at this point in my life, but as it often goes with these sorts of books I am very glad to have read it. It's a book that, for me at least, helped me understand myself and what I am going through.

[b: H is for Hawk|18803640|H is for Hawk|Helen Macdonald|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1442151714s/18803640.jpg|26732095] is a beautiful book the delves deep into what makes us human and how, at times, we need to forget how to be just that. It is about bereavement and mourning, about yarak and cruelty, about isolation and the nature of a hawk and our relation to wilderness itself. This is an important book, and I am glad for the praise that it earned and its ubiquitous nature. It's a book that needs to be read and comprehended. It's a perspective that we all need to entertain, a bit of madness that we all need to go through and inevitably will, in ours strange lives. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
Helen Macdonald’s beautiful and nearly feral book, “H Is for Hawk,” her first published in the United States, reminds us that excellent nature writing can lay bare some of the intimacies of the wild world as well. Her book is so good that, at times, it hurt me to read it. It draws blood, in ways that seem curative.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (Feb 17, 2015)

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Helen Macdonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wormell, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Forty-five minutes north-east of Cambridge is a landscape I've come to love very much indeed.
The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten.
Using his pencil, he shaded the page of his notebook with graphite, and there, white on grey, impressed on the paper from the missing page above, was the registration number of the secret plane. He stopped crying, he said, and cycled home in triumph.
There is something religious about the activity of looking up at a hawk in a tall tree.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802123414, Hardcover)

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral anger mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Sword and the Stone author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her journey into Mabel’s world. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity.

By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement; a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast; and the story of an eccentric falconer and legendary writer. Weaving together obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history, H is for Hawk is a distinctive, surprising blend of nature writing and memoir from a very gifted writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:06 -0400)

"As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T.H. White's tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel ... on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals"--Dust jacket of a previous printing.… (more)

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