Sunday 12 July 2015

H is for Hawk

Finished July 9
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, read by the author

This memoir is of just a year in Helen's life, but it is a life-changing year. Helen's father died suddenly and unexpectedly and she grieved him intensely. Part of her reaction to his death was to return to love for hunting birds by purchasing a young hawk and training it. Helen's immersion in this activity speaks to both her state of mind in her grief, and her love of hunting birds. She had trained other smaller birds before, but never a goshawk, and the task both scares her and invigorates her. She names the bird Mabel, and finds herself also relating to T.H. White's experiences training a goshawk, told in his book The Goshawk.
Helen loses herself at times in her task, wants to train through positive reinforcement, and identifies strongly with the bird. We get to see Mabel's personality as she goes through the training, learning what is expected of her, and showing unexpected quirks.
Her writing and openness about her experience is amazing, The detail around the training process was fascinating, and her own feelings are described frankly,
A great read,  made even better by the author reading it herself.

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