Helen Macdonald’s book on falconry and grief, “H is for Hawk,” was a very unique memoir. Growing up her father and her loved birds of prey. As a young girl, Macdonald got every book she could find with her father on falconry.
When her father passes away, Macdonald’s grief at her father’s death, leads her to train a goshawk, one of the larger birds of prey, and a historically temperamental bird. A large part of her journey of falconry is a favorite book that she read over and over by T.H. White called “The Goshawk,” first published in 1951. She weaves her own story of grief and training her goshawk, Mabel, with White’s struggles as a beginner trying and failing to train his own goshawk.
I found the subject and her observations of the patience and perseverance to train a hawk to be interesting and engaging. While birds of prey have never been domesticated, nor bred to create new breeds, the each have different personalities and tend to sense and understand their keepers. The dynamic between Macdonald and Mabel and the kindred spirits they develop in the process was enjoyable to read about.