H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk

Hardback Published on: 31/07/2014
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Bookseller Reviews

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H is for Hawk
I have to confess, that I do not read a lot of nature writing and only the odd biography, and I can’t even say that I’m particularly keen on birds (except ... READ MORE
Claudia  Sunderhauf
H is for Hawk
H is for Hawk
How training a hawk can help deal with the profound loss of a loved one. Taking inspiration from the writing of T H White, the author embarks on the challe... READ MORE
Philippa at Colchester


Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize Winner of the 2014 Costa Book of the Year Award Shortlisted for the 2014 Duff Cooper Prize Shortlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize `In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail.' 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 for GBP800 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. `To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so gain the ability to predict what it will do next. Eventually you don't see the hawk's body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. The hawk's apprehension becomes your own. As the days passed and I put myself in the hawk's wild mind to tame her, my humanity was burning away.' Destined to be a classic of nature writing, H is for Hawk is a record of a spiritual journey - an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. At the same time, it's a kaleidoscopic biography of the brilliant and troubled novelist T. H. White, best known for The Once and Future King. It's a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.

  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • ISBN: 9780224097000
  • Number of pages: 320
  • Weight: 519g
  • Dimensions: 222 x 148 x 34 mm

Customer Reviews

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H is for Hawk
A Classic!
This is a superbly written and moving book with the author expressing the raw emotions of grief so eloquently. The author’s passion of the subject matter i... READ MORE
Catherine Harper
H is for Hawk
A beautiful example of nature writing
This is nature writing at its best, as it shows us both the effect that a wild creature can have on a human and the effect a human can have on a wild creat... READ MORE
H is for Hawk
Helen Macdonald is an illustrator, historian and naturalist. When her father, her companion in her love for birds, dies Macdonald struggles to put her life... READ MORE
Kira Houghton
H is for Hawk
I found this book a little hard to get into but it was worth the wait in the end! This book is so raw and that's what made it so beautiful and brilliant. I... READ MORE