Many books are heaped with praise on their covers before a reader has a chance to gauge their own opinion. Sometimes the reviews are almost too awe-inspiring. Can make a reader nervous. Can make a book unapproachable. In the case of Helen McDonald’s H is for Hawk no praise seems too much. I know this because I don’t often feel like rushing out and buying a copy for everyone I know. This book I want to share, extravagantly. I have bought a copy for my medical ophthalmologist Dr Paul Meyer, a man renowned for his precise attention to detail and excruciating patience with every vulnerable being sitting before him. We share a love for the life and writings of Primo Levi, poet, chemist, Holocaust survivor, writer of the extraordinary If This Is A Man, which deserves its own post.

If you haven’t come across this book – part memoir on grief, part hawking encyclopaedia, part biography of TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone – rush out to buy it, download it on your kindle. You won’t regret it. Helen trained Mabel very near to the part of Cambridge I call home. Quite exciting to think I might bump into her one day out in the fens…

Helen and her hawk...
Helen and her hawk…

2 thoughts on “H IS FOR HAWK

  1. Shai, you have convinced me. I will add this to my reading list. I just finished The Tusk that did the Damage by Tania James and I recommend it highly.


  2. Shaista, I just read this book recently too and I was riveted by every page. Her writing is truly wonderful, and one really gets to know the hawk while reading. I started off worrying, because I am not fond of wild things being captive. But the author really understands her hawk and knew how to bond with it respectfully, so I soon became more engrossed in the training process. I wrote a poem about the training of a hawk, distilling what she learned into poem form. I felt like I made that journey with them. You definitely should try to connect with Helen since you live close by. Wouldnt it be amazing to meet her and Mabel?


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