Report on The Page Turners Meeting - Meeting, Thursday, 6 July 2017

Review of ‘H is For Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald

July 2017 

We all found this a challenging and difficult read. Our collective score for it was 2.5/10.

It was hard to work out whether this was a biography, a memoir or a bird-training guide as it moved between the different styles. The central story revolves around the author’s decision to tie herself to training a goshawk in the wake of her father’s sudden death. Throughout the process she uses a childhood book about a goshawk by T.H.White.

We felt that the narrative represented the range of her grief, fury and love as Helen retreats from the human world. There was a reclusive, tormented feel to the writing that reflects her emotional journey and turmoil. Taking a goshawk and training it to hunt as she withdraws from life, people and society, felt extreme at times to us. It was as if the narrator started to identify more with the wild world of the hawk. She seeks out a sense of safety in dark woods and empty heaths.  Through vivid descriptions we see the world through the eyes of Mabel – echoing the way that Helen’s father had looked at the world through his camera lens.

Unfortunately, this book failed to fly for our group.

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