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Publisher's Summary

When Helen MacDonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she'd 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 anger 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 journey into Mabel's world. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of MacDonald's humanity.
By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement, a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, and the story of an eccentric falconer and legendary writer. Weaving together obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history, H Is for Hawk is a distinctive, surprising blend of nature writing and memoir from a very gifted writer.
©2014 Helen Macdonald (P)2014 Isis Publishing, Ltd. UK
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Sara on 04-09-15

Mabel The Hawk--The Fire That Burned The Hurts Away

First let me start by saying that I was wary of buying the audio version of the book when I found out that the author was the narrator. This often goes terribly wrong. I was really looking forward to this book and didn't want it ruined by a narration problem. I need not have worried, MacDonald's narration was absolute perfection. The timing, the tone and her ability to capture the emotion and the energy of the story were all spot on. I loved listening to MacDonald tell her own story.

The writing was beautiful, tragic, poetic, insightful and difficult listening in parts. At first I hated the look back at TH White's life and experience training his own hawk. Then, gradually because of MacDonald's deft storytelling ability I felt sympathy for White and his misery. What's more, having recently finished reading the bio of Alan Turing and I was fascinated by the similarities in White's and Turing's childhoods and experiences in school.

This book offers a window into MacDonald's experience of complicated grief. It shows us how being in and a part of nature and wildness helped her find her way through. I found myself completely engaged and totally wrapped up in the history, detail and experience of falconry. However, be aware that this is a story about hawks--fierce predators and involves a fair amount of discussion of hunting, blood, and prey. All that said, it is a beauty of a book that allowed a glimpse at life through someone else's eyes. I loved it.

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113 of 116 people found this review helpful


By Dorothy S. Case on 08-25-15

Beautifully read by Helen herself

I have a much greater knowledge of this "sport" and see through the book there are deeper meanings to it. However the exquisite reading was the reason I kept listening. I wonder if I would have even finished one chapter if it were in paper. This book moved me greatly-. Grieving for her father and her quest to understand White, as well as herself. Marvelous.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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