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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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2,9792093,136 (3.86)1 / 428
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer 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.… (more)

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English (205)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
Maybe the most goth book I've ever read. In a great way.

"There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are."

"When I was an undergraduate we were told that history had ended, and we all believed it. When the Berlin Wall fell, what history was made of was over. No more Cold War. No more wars. And yet here it was, and is, and all of it falling apart. Endings. Worlds dissolving. Weather systems, banking systems, the careful plans of municipal gardeners. Families, hearts, lives. Distant wars and small trees wrenched in two. I look at the line of people and all their fierce possessiveness and their hidden terror at the thought that their bulwarks against death might be lost. Money. Security. Knots and lines. The ends of things. And it is sitting there with a cooling coffee that I think seriously for the first time about what I am doing. What I am going to do with the hawk. Kill things. Make death."
( )
  Jetztzeit | May 15, 2020 |
An interesting memoir about a woman working through grief by connecting with nature, with a place, with history, and with her own memories. I found the story very relatable, and the details about the life of British writer T.H. White, and the training of a goshawk, quite engaging and fascinating. A good read. ( )
  RandyRasa | Apr 30, 2020 |
Nature, grief, a bit of literary history - this book had loads of elements I loved, and was very readable. The emotions were immediate and rang true. The will to become wild is for me part of grief and of depression. Some of the descriptions were concisely beautiful. I would have devoured it in one day if I didn't have things interrupting me. It completely transported me. ( )
  RFellows | Apr 29, 2020 |
Macdonald has had a fascination with raptors from an early age, and has been a falconer for a number of years and has flown merlins and tiercel’s in the past. Following the loss of her father, and inspired by the book, Goshawk by TS White, she decides to buy a goshawk to train and fly. The goshawk is one of nature’s most finely honed creatures. It is perfectly adapted to its wooded environment with ultra responsive senses and razor sharp claws, and has stark markings, as well as being a big raptor.

Her fathers death is a huge gap in her life, and whilst the training of Mabel, the goshawk, give her a focus this does not stop her plummeting to depression. Her job is finished, and she gradually ends up with little or no income and a very bleak future. She visits her doctor, and after pouring her heart out to him, is prescribed a course of drugs, and begins the slow climb out of depression back to a normal life, helped by understanding friends and by doing a touching tribute to her late father at a memorial service.

The writing in this is raw and emotional at times, from the grief that she feels to the utter blackness as she feels overwhelmed. You sense her vulnerability with all the things going on around and her perception that she is not in control any more. But in all this she writes with amazing clarity about the training of the hawk, the positive progress, and the times when almost all is lost. You sense her pain, very physical at times when the bird grips her arm with her talons, to the flush of pleasure when Mable flies free for the first time.

Macdonald has deftly woven a natural history book and a memoir together here, and is a well deserved winner of the Samuel Johnson prize.
( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
An interesting memoir about a woman working through grief by connecting with nature, with a place, with history, and with her own memories. I found the story very relatable, and the details about the life of British writer T.H. White, and the training of a goshawk, quite engaging and fascinating. A good read. ( )
  RandyRasa | Mar 20, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (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)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Macdonald, HelenAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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