Everyone I know who has read this has given it rave reviews. I am a bit of a bird nerd, and especially love birds of prey so I was very keen. However I knew that the reason that Helen Macdonald took on her hawk was as a way to deal with the death of her father and that this was more about grief than birds, as some readers may know I lost my baby son during labour at Christmas 2012 and so I have avoided this book for some time, for fear it may have been too much for me to deal with.
After ploughing through A God in Every Stone (review up next), which I hadn’t really enjoyed I was hooked on this straight away. The writing, especially the descriptions of these amazing birds and the English countryside, is beautiful and the interweaving of Helen’s struggles with Mable (the hawk) and her mental health after losing her father, with the history of hawking more generally and the story of writer T.H. White and his bird, Gos, is very well done.
I did find some of the passages about grief difficult, but her’s (like everyone’s) is very different to mine and I respect her honesty and rawness on the page.