H is for Hawk by Helen Mcdonald is a very difficult book for me to review. I loved the parts with the Goshawk, Mable, and although the whole book was beautifully written, I just struggled to get into it. Before I continue, here’s the blurb from Amazon.
THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER
**WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR**
**WINNER OF THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION**
**WINNER OF THE PRIX DU MEILLEUR LIVRE ÉTRANGER**
As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.
H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.
I really like the cover. It’s not too fancy, but it’s bold and the Hawk certainly draws the eye.
As I said above, this is a beautifully written book and I cannot fault the author for her skills at conveying place, and also her honesty about the grief she struggled to deal with after her father’s sudden death.
I love birds of prey (I’m even treating myself to a falconry day for my birthday this year), and these were the passages of the book that really stood out for me. I was enthralled and intrigued by the whole process of trying to tame a Goshawk.
However, it took me about 3 months to read the book because half of it was more of a study of T. H. White and his experiences of life and trying to train his own Goshawk – Gos. To me some of the book read more like an essay or biography. Again, it was well written, but not for me.
I’m sure H is for Hawk will appeal to those who enjoy a more literary read, whilst I’m happy sticking with my genre fiction.
I don’t feel it fair to give this book a star rating as my views on it are so conflicting. But if it had just been about the Goshawk, it would have easily been 4 star.
If you have read it, let me know what you thoughts.