Several people suggested that I read this, but I resisted. The blurb (see below) didn’t really appeal to me – I am not all that interested in birds and I had a terrible relationship with my Dad, so I didn’t want to be reminded of what I didn’t have, but eventually I gave in and read it. I am glad I did because it is not just about birds and grief, it is about finding your way to live in the world.
Here is the blurb …
When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life.
Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.
So this is about Helen MacDonald overcoming her grief by training a goshawk, but it is also a memoir of T.H. White. And both of those are about making peace with yourself (accepting your nature and desires) and making a contented life for yourself.
I am quite nosy so I do like reading about other peoples’ lives – how they live and what they thought etc. This is a very personal story – I am in awe of anybody who can put so much of themselves into the world.
More reviews …