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I really enjoyed this throughly engaging bio written over the course of one year. Maclear has broad interests and a discerning eye for the small detail and at the same time the big picture. Several times while listening I scrambled to click the bookmark on my device to save a thought or idea. To me, Maclear's use of vocabulary was excellent and her skilled phrasing of an insight really hit the mark and captured the essence of a problem or issue. In short, the author was able to put complex ideas into words beautifully and convey them to the reader with simple ease.
I've read several reviews that found this book was very like the book H is for Hawk. I am not sure I agree with that thinking. While both books were written by a woman, contemplative in nature and involved birds as a vehicle for exploring life, they were very different books. H is for Hawk was a dark, solitary and brooding meditation that focused on, for the most part one bird, Mable, a hawk the author was training. This was an up close relationship with one bird.
In Birds Art Life Maclear is a very busy, relatively upbeat mother of young children with a husband, lots of activities and yoga classes. She was writing about exploring birds by shadowing a birder for a year. This involved learning about lots of different birds, usually observed from a distance. In reality these were very different books with extremely disparate outlooks on life, loss and our individual place in the world.
Don't get me wrong--I enjoyed both of these books very much. Just don't go into this book looking for more of Helen Macdonald. This is 100 percent Maclear and stands well on its own. Perfect for a reader who wants to learn to expand their connection with nature and glean some of the author's thoughts on living in a complex world.
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