Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
“Hunting with a hawk took me to the very edge of being a human, then it took me past that place to somewhere I wasn’t human at all.”
I stumbled upon this audio book on the Libby app one day. I love birds and the synopsis sounded interesting, so I gave it a try! H is for Hawk is a memoir about how Helen deals with the death of her father and her love of falconry. H is for Hawk, but H is also for Helen. Mabel, the hawk, and Helen, the trainer come together in a very unique and special relationship. The audio version I listened to was narrated by the author, which made it very interesting as well.
Helen weaves three story threads here: her grief for her late father, her experience training a goshawk, and T.H. White’s parallel journey of personal grief and hawking. Helen Macdonald says, “Hunting makes you animal but the death of an animal makes you human. Kneeling next to the hawk and her prey, I felt responsibility so huge that it battered inside my own chest, ballooning out into a space the size of a cathedral.” At first read you might think this is borderline hyperbole or overwritten prose, but this memoir/nature/bird watching/falconry book goes quite deep with raw emotion.
The only reason I gave the book a 4 out of 5 was that a considerable part of the book is about the trials of falconer T.H. White and his book “The Goshawk.” I struggled reading just a tiny bit with Helen’s frequent jumps to White’s life and “Gos” because it became redundant and too often took me away from Mabel and Helen. An interesting story none the less and I think I wouldn’t mind reading T.H. White’s falconry story as well!
P.S. If you don’t know who T.H. White is – he is the author of some well known books, including The Sword in the Stone!
Available on Amazon – H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald