[PDF / Epub] ☉ H is for Hawk ❤ Helen Macdonald – Andy-palmer.co.uk
This is probably a decent book and several of my smarty farty friends have read it, but we all know I m a moron and every time it is spammed recommended to me on my feed by the powers that be here at Goodreads I can only picture this Now that book I would totally read. Here s a word Bereavement Or Bereaved Bereft It s from the Old English bereafian, meaning to deprive of, take away, seize, rob.Here s another word raptor, meaning bird of prey From the Latin raptor, meaning robber, from rapere meaning seize Rob Seize.Here s another word Captivating H is for Hawk stole me, holding me captive with its madness and love Part claustrophobic memoir of grief, part luminous tribute to the sport of falconry, Helen Macdonald s book is brilliant and tense It is a story of fury and grace, recounted in pulsing, poetic language.Helen s father, a famous Fleet Street photographer, dies unexpectedly and Helen, a historian, poet, and experienced falconer, tumbles into the abyss Retreating from the world, she seizes on the one thing she believes will keep her from being swallowed by grief she will train a goshawk Goshawks are the Velociraptors of the raptor world, a hawk of the genus Accipter, not to be confused with its far approachable and trainable cousin the falcon, of the genus Falco Macdonald s Czech German goshawk, whom she purchases on a Scottish quayside for 800, is a griffin from the pages of an illuminated bestiary The bird appears as a primordial creature, an ancient, disappeared thing rising from the half life of history the lucency of her pale, round eyes the waxy, yellow skin about her Bakelite black beak half the time she seems as alien as a snake, a thing hammered of metal and scales and glass.Macdonald names the goshawk Mabel, from the Latin amabilis, meaning lovable or dear This is perhaps a hope that Macdonald projects onto the goshawk, for there is always a current of tension and violence running between woman and raptor Macdonald never takes for granted that this creature who lives in her home and perches on her wrist is built for murder Training a goshawk is a pressure cooker of isolation and suppressed emotion The bird is hyper sensitive to disturbances in its force field and in the early days Macdonald lives like a monk barely eating or sleeping She forgets she is human as she works to enter Mabel s psyche and earn her trust In this way, she shuts down her human mourning and becomes something feral She feeds Mabel corpses of tiny birds Gradually, she reenters the world, Mabel on her wrist Raptor and woman learn to navigate the outside together, each wholly dependent on the other for cues and sustenance, one emotional, the other flesh H is for Hawk seduces the reader with the peculiar lexicon of falconry As a child I d cleaved to falconry s disconcertingly complex vocabulary In my old books every part of a hawk was named wings were sails, claws pounces, tail a train Male hawks are a third smaller than the female so they are called tiercels, from the Latin tertius, for third Young birds are eyasses, older birds passagers, adult trapped birds haggards Half trained hawks fly on a long line called a creance Hawks don t wipe their beaks, they feak When they defecate they mute When they shake themselves they rouse On and on it goes in a dizzying panoply of terms of precision.Macdonald herself has the soul of a poet and uses language to a lyrical, gorgeous degree in her book Upon bringing Mabel home for the first time, she tells us the bird fills the house with wildness as a bowl of lilies fills a house with scent Or a field is washed pewter with frost Pages of this beautiful wording fill the memoir And strikingly, so does a strain of literary thriller, a masterful touch that lifts the narrative sharply from Macdonald s heavy grief Each foray the pair makes outside is fraught, first with fear how will Mabel respond the hurly burly of modern life then, as the raptor is allowed to fly with increasing liberty, there is escape, violence, death Macdonald snaps the necks of the rabbits that Mabel attacks she pockets the pheasants that Mabel poaches She watches with her heart in her throat as Mabel flies free, away from her, and realizes she has transferred all her hope and madness into this raw, fierce, creature Paralleling Macdonald and Mabel s journey is the story of the British writer TH White, best known for The Once and Future King, his epic retelling of the Arthurian legend White was also a falconer and wrote of his experiences trying to train a goshawk His tribulations with Gos become something of a metaphor for his troubled life Macdonald recounts the abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of his parents, the depravity of his boarding school classmates, the cruel repression of his homosexuality, and his struggles as a writer Macdonald seems to use the sadness of White s life as a way to cope with her own, as well as a cautionary tale of how not to build a relationship with a goshawk.At her father s memorial, many months after his death, Macdonald has a crystalline epiphany human hands have other hands to hold they shouldn t be reserved exclusively as perches for hawks There are many turning points and milestones in the training of Mabel, but this is the moment when we see a human animal transform Balancing between the dreamlike world of falconry and the prosaic demands of home, job, and relationships, she regains her footing.As Macdonald so beautifully states, the archeology of grief is not ordered There is no formula for surviving the worst the world can conjure We each struggle our way through the morass Helen Macdonald found her redemption in the keen, wild soul of goshawk. Obsession, Madness, Memory, Myth, And History Combine To Achieve A Distinctive Blend Of Nature Writing And Memoir From An Outstanding Literary Innovator.When Helen Macdonald S Father Died Suddenly On A London Street, She Was Devastated An Experienced Falconer Helen Had Been 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 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. The archaeology of grief is not ordered It is like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten Surprising things come to light not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world Helen MacDonald had suffered a great loss In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy wrote,Happy families are all alike every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Perhaps the same might be applied to grieving I know for myself, during an acute period of grieving I was practically unable to speak for well over a month, probably not a typical experience MacDonald s reaction was just a wee bit unusual than mine She decided to train a goshawk Helen MacDonald and friend from The Daily MailThe loss of a person, whether through death, distance, or alienation, can bring about a significant crisis of identity In MacDonald s case, she had to lose her self, to an almost pathological degree, in order to find a way forward with her life H is for Hawk is her tale of that journey Of course, being a Cambridge educated writer and naturalist, research fellow at Jesus College of Cambridge, and research scholar with the Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy, she brought a fair bit of writerly and intellectual heft to the task I was in ruins Some deep part of me was trying to rebuild itself, and its model was right there on my fist The hawk was everything I wanted to be solitary, self possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life Hope may be a thing with feathers, but in MacDonald s case, it was also a thing with a rapier beak, death dealing claws and a penchant for killing MacDonald named her Mabel She takes us along on her year long struggle to master both her hawk and her grief MacDonald had been very close with her father, well known, award winning news photographer, Alisdair MacDonald It was he who had introduced her to hawking as a child Training a hawk was her way of connecting to her father Helen MacDonald with dad, Alisdair MacDonald from Suffolk MagazineAnd then she added another dimension to this experience There are four primary threads here The first is MacDonald s ongoing struggle to train Mabel The second is her family history with her father The third is her emotional, existential struggle to find a passage through her grief to the light The fourth is her consideration TH White T.H White and friend from Anendlessbanquet.comTerence Hanbury White gained considerable renown for writing The Once and Future King, The Sword in the Stone, and But he also wrote a book about his experience with falconry MacDonald finds much in his book, The Goshawk, that touches her, reminding her of her childhood falconry bonding with dad But she digs deeper, generating some in depth analysis of White s life and work While his writing had garnered him considerable wealth and fame, White s personal inclinations and struggles are not so well known He had had, to put it kindly, a less than nurturing upbringing, with a particularly cold and remote father He was gay, with sado masochistic impulses, which was not exactly a comfy fit in the mid 20th century MacDonald sees in his writing an expression of this inner self When White writes about his love for the countryside, at heart he is writing about a hope that he might be able to love himself But the countryside wasn t just something that was safe for White to love it was a love that was safe to write about It took me a long time to realize how many of our classical books on animals were by gay writers who wrote of their relationships with animals in lieu of human loves of which they could not speak Both White and MacDonald used hawking as a way to step away from the world She also sees an expression of White s violent inclinations, and recognizes a bloodlust in herself as she assists Mabel in the slaughter of local fauna In referring to a scene in which White tells of a fox being ripped to bits In this bloody scene, one man escaped White s revulsion the huntsman, a red faced, grave and gentlemanly figure who stood by the hounds and blew the mort on his hunting horn, the formal act of parting to commemorate the death of the fox By some strange alchemy his closeness to the pack, his expert command of them the huntsman was not horrible For White it was a moral magic trick, a way out of his conundrum By skillfully training a hunting animal, by closely associating with it, by identifying with it, you might be allowed to experience all your vital, sincere desires, even your most bloodthirsty ones, in total innocence You could be true to yourself This was something that appealed to White, a publicly sanctioned milieu in which he could express his bloody desires MacDonald recognizes the feeling of bloodlust in herself, as well.The original cover of The GoshawkWe are treated to a bit of falconry history, consideration being given to the class and gender elements I saw those nineteenth century falconers were projecting onto their hawks all the male qualities they thought threatened by modern life wildness, power, virility, independence, and strength By identifying with their hawks as they trained them, they could introject, or repossess, those qualities At the same time they could exercise their power by civilising a wild and primitive creature Masculinity and conquest two imperial myths for the price of one The book is filled not only with her emotional struggle to recover, but with some breath taking nature writing The bare field we d flown the hawk upon is covered in gossamer, millions of shining threads combed downwind across every inch of soil Lit by the sinking sun the quivering silk runs like light on water all the way to my feet It is a thing of unearthly beauty, the work of a million tiny spiders searching for new homes Each had spun a charged silken thread out into the air to pull it from its hatch place, ascending like intrepid hot air balloonists to drift and disperse and fall Does being in nature offer a salve to human suffering Or does it reveal of who we really are MacDonald obviously survived her trial by feather with her personality, her core intact It will not feel entirely clear as you read this that she will MacDonald is gloriously adept at bringing you into her experience, leading you to wonder the things she wonders, to feel the pain of her struggle H is for Hawk is a magnificent achievement, taking us along with the author on her dark road, but offering glimpses of glory, of growth and understanding, while teaching us a bit about something most of us have never encountered, and giving us an expanded appreciation for one of the most beloved authors of the 20th Century If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading H is for Hawk I know there are some of you out there , I cannot urge you vociferously to snatch off your hoods, fly to your bookstore and pounce on a copy before they are all gone You will find in this book a very satisfying feast.This review posted 10 14 16Published 7 31 14PS Lena Headey, the actress who plays queen Circei Lannister on The Game of Thrones bought the film rights to the book in April 2015 I do not know if the project has progressed to a development stage EXTRA STUFF H is for Hawk has won a claw full of prizes and recognition 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize now the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non fiction winner 2014 Costa Book of the Year winner 2014 Duff Cooper Prize shortlist 2015 Thwaites Wainwright Prize longlist 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction shortlistLinks to the author s Twitter and FB pagesArticle Rapt by Kathryn Schultz New Yorker Magazine March 9, 2015Radio interview WBUR in Boston 11 16Videos MacDonald talk at 5 x 15 16 18 Macdonald with Mary Karr at 92nd Street Y 1 17 51 MacDonald on BBC News Meet the Author 3 04 Helen at a bookstore in DC 58 25 excellent her talk is for the first 30 minutes Politics and Prose is the site Helen reads TH White The entire film, The Goshawk, based on TH White s bookJuly 25, 2017 An interesting National Geographic piece about a red tail hawk going through an unusual upbringing Why This Young Hawk Thinks It s an Eagle By Sarah Gibbens I certainly would not want to dissuade anyone from reading H is for Hawk, Cambridge professor Helen Macdonald s moving memoir of coping with the loss of her photojournalist father Her twin academic disciplines of English and ornithology specifically, falconry provide the source of her occasionally gorgeous prose as she recounts her attempt at raising a goshawk If she d focused on herself, her birding, and her subsequent descent into near madness, this would ve been a solid four star read for me There s no denying this woman is utterly fascinating, and her story embellished with swirly, soaring poetics is breathtaking.So why only three stars I m not sure why Ms Macdonald felt compelled to parallel her story with author TH White s, but each time she wheeled out his life story which included his own very inexpert attempts at goshawkery , it served as a needless, soporific distraction from her own fascinating story I understand her love for TH White After all, it was his own 1951 memoirThe Goshawk that fueled her lifelong obsession with hawks and falcons Did she need to relate his story, though, in every single chapter My contention is no way Her life, I m sure, is plenty bookworthy on its own without having to pad it with TH White s. Before starting in on my review, I took a quick look at what my fellow Goodreaders thought I don t always do that, but I was really curious this time I am thinking I am in the minority in my feelings about this one Which is all good I just didn t care for it.Usually when reading non fiction, even if I don t know the subject matter, I can usually get into it In fact, I think it is the sign of a great non fiction book when an author can take a random subject and make any reader care about it With H is for Hawk, this did not happen In fact, at no point did I find myself thinking it was getting interesting It just seemed like a lecture, albeit a somewhat flowery and poetic lecture, on raising a goshawk.Another issue I had was that a good portion of the book, at least half, if not , was just a book report of The Goshawk T.H White author of The Once and Future King I thought this seemed kind of odd if I wanted to read that book, I would have If she wanted to reference it from time to time, okay But, instead, there were frequent and in my opinion, not very smooth transitions over to discussions about his book and experiences with raising a Goshawk Apparently, he did a bad job of it so it seemed like the author was saying, here s bad info about hawk raising from T H White but isn t it cool how it relates to The Sword In The Stone Lastly, the author just seemed uncomfortable the entire book I listened to the audio, which is narrated by her, and she just sounded iffy the whole time I am not sure I can think of a better way to explain it I suppose it is like if we are reading a love story and instead of the uncomfortable courtship just being at the beginning, it lasts through the whole thing And, in the end, the main characters still seem as uncomfortable with each other as they did in the first scene At all times it felt like she was two seconds away from a nervous breakdown over the goshawk it just felt weird.As mentioned, this opinion does not seem to mesh with that of the majority of Goodreaders So, you may want to take my review with a grain of salt as this book might be right up your alley But, if you had the same experience, let me know because I am happy to find out it isn t just me especially when the book is one that I hear a lot about and that keeps popping up in my feed. This is gorgeous nature writing and it is also a graceful memoir about bereavement Helen Macdonald has managed to blend the two genres beautifully When Helen s father died, her grief was so great that she decided to adopt a goshawk Helen had loved hawks since childhood and had studied falconry, but this was her first time trying to train a goshawk In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecoats Bigger, yes But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they re the birdwatchers dark grail You might spend a week in a forest full of gosses and never see one, just traces of their presence. If you have ever lost a loved one, you know that grief can cause you to do strange things Helen became obsessed with her goshawk, spending hours with it and avoiding other humans What happens to the mind after bereavement makes no sense until later. While training her hawk, Helen also did a lot of reading about falconry, and especially appreciated a book by T.H White called The Goshawk. White is famous for writing The Once and Future King White s experience gave her courage to train her goshawk, and she learned from some of his mistakes I had given little thought to hawks before reading Helen s memoir, but now I am fascinated by them I would highly recommend this memoir to anyone who appreciates beautiful nature writing.Favorite Quotes For so long I d been living in libraries and college rooms, frowning at screens, marking essays, chasing down academic references This was a different kind of hunt Here I was a different animal Have you ever watched a deer walking out from cover They step, stop, and stay, motionless, nose to the air, looking and smelling A nervous twitch might run down their flanks And then, reassured that all is safe, they ankle their way out of the brush to graze That morning, I felt like the deer I put White s book on the shelves, make myself a cup of tea I m in a contemplative mood I d brought the hawk into my world and then I pretended I lived in hers Now it feels different we share our lives happily in all their separation I look down at my hands There are scars on them now Thin white lines One is from her talons when she d been fractious with hunger it feels like a warning made flesh Another is a blackthorn rip from the time I d pushed through a hedge to find the hawk I d thought I d lost And there were other scars, too, but they were not visible They were the ones she d helped mend, not make. The archeology of grief is not ordered Helen Macdonald s book length nonfiction is so many things at once a eulogy, an elegy, a biography, a memoir, a training manual, a journey It is a conversation about death, and community It is so filled with passion and pain that one reads, breath bated, to see which will crush the other This book is only partly about a hawk, despite the title It records the author s journey of a few years, starting with the unexpected death of her father, through the purchase and training of a hawk, to a new place of understanding about what and who humans are and what we need to live well The author looks closely at the life and writings of another vulnerable person, T.H White, to express sorrow and a kind of sympathy with his derangements She learns the origins of his extraordinary flights of fancy in literature, tracing over the sores of his upbringing until we see clearly the agonies of his confused psychopathy White was a hawker, but a hawker one might quote to show how not to train a hawk Macdonald loathed his book The Goshawk as a child When she gets her own hawk after the death of her father, she reads it again This time she discovers White s pain seeing, feeling, tracing it until it is as clear as her own Macdonald shares one of the best descriptions of bereavement that I have ever encountered italics are hers Here s a word Bereavement. Or, Bereaved Bereft It s from the Old English bereafian, meaning to deprive of, take away, seize, rob Robbed Seized It happens to everyone But you feel it alone Shocking loss isn t to be shared, no matter how hard you try Imagine, I said, back then, to some friends, in an earnest attempt to explain, imagine your whole family is in a room Yes, all of them, All the people you love So then what happens is someone comes into the room and punches you all in the stomach Each one of you Really hard So you re all on the floor Right So the thing is, you all share the same kind of pain, exactly the same, but you re too busy experiencing total agony to feel anything other than completely alone That s what it s like I finished my little speech in triumph, convinced that I d hit upon the perfect way to explain how it felt I was puzzled by the pitying, horrified faces, because it didn t strike me at all that an example that put my friends families in rooms and had them beaten might carry the tang of total lunacy I d dreamed of hawks again I started dreaming of hawks all the time Here s another word raptor, meaning bird of prey From the Latin raptor, meaning robber, from rapere, meaning seize Rob Seize Hawks apparently have a shamanic tradition of being able to cross borders that humans cannot and were seen as messengers between this world and the next The author trains a bird of prey, a falcon called Mabel Mabel is a predator she is all about death, violent death The wildness of the bird seeps into the author s consciousness, and her perceptions become acute Macdonald is recovering from a loss, and her bond with the reptilian raptor Mabel underscores her warm blooded need for love and her bond with the human community This book is the author working through grief and terror and want and coming out naked and vulnerable on the other side The language Macdonald employs in this memoir is as extraordinary and ingenious as her laying out such diverse topics as death, hawking, T.H White, and history as interlocking pieces She holds us rapt as she defines her grief The words she chooses make us hypersensitive to differences in shade, angle, meaning Goshawks in the air are a complicated grey colour Not slate grey, nor pigeon grey But a kind of raincloud grey Or this I was grey, loose spun wool on an aching set of bones Or this I felt like I was holding the bastard offspring of a flaming torch and an assault rifle Her meanings are exquisitely clear.Macdonald was born a hawker We are all born with something innate but dormant until awakened by opportunity Fortunately Macdonald was able to find and exercise her passion because she liked to read It reminds me of teachers we may have had that spark an interest in something that feels as natural to us as breathing, and as necessary Macdonald discusses six books that formed her consciousness about nature, makes us realize once again that a seed spilled on tilled ground can yield the most amazing things It breaks my heart a little to think that every child probably has some thing in them that would burst into flame with the right tinder Not all of us find it, early or ever. Didn t rate this at all I have to be blunt here H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald is not my cup of tea in the slightest To say it won the Costa Book of the Year and to be given widespread praise and five star reviews by many including being labelled as a soaring triumph by the Telegraph, I expected something better, something much much better.To say that I didn t rate it highly is something of an understatement Yes, there is some pretty prose on the pages, but even some of this seems rather forced As if she s trying to sound much creative with words than she is.Her analysis of TH White s experience of his attempt at training his goshawk is really quite odd, and seems out of place, like a dissertation of White randomly intermixed in her memoir I can t criticize her method of dealing with her grief after the death of her father, everyone has their own way of dealing with grief But even knowing this I still can t say that I enjoyed the book, not even a little bit I would have put it down, but I felt like it could have been one of those books which you only realize is good when you get to the very end It wasn t. A is for AscendantProse to sweep you awayB is for BirdsWith a passion for preyC is for CambridgeShe s one of their scholarsD is for DineroNice royalty dollarsE is for ElegiacSo sad when her dad diedF is for FlyingBird and soul, side by sideG is for GratefulSusan, you pointed the way H is for HawkA great book, I must sayOK, you get the idea This one is beautifully written, scholarly, a bit sad, and ultimately uplifting It s been quite a success, too, both at the bookstores and with critics Oh, and just so you know, our daughter used to request A is for Annabelle on a regular basis That s all the explanation you need for my lead in Macdonald structured the book very cleverly It was part nature writing lyrical and literary , part memoir detailing both grief and good humor , and part biography with T.H White, author of The Once and Future King, as the subject The nature writing had to do with her experience training a goshawk, a particularly challenging breed known for its large size, hunting skills, and cussedness She is a naturalist and research scholar at the University of Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science She s also a talented writer I had a good feeling about the prose when she described her state of mind on the very first page I felt odd overtired, overwrought, unpleasantly like my brain had been removed and my skull stuffed with something like microwaved aluminium foil, dinted, charred and shorting with sparks And with the added i in aluminium, I knew it would be English English, unalloyed, full stop Helen must have been an unusual girl As an eight year old, she would explore antiquarian bookstores with her father seeking out and devouring books on falconry Many of the volumes were centuries old She seemed to inherit her obsessive behavior from her father who, as a lad during WWII, would hang around for hours just outside airfields making detailed notes on all the different planes Young Helen somehow bought in to the long European tradition of country gentlemen flying their birds Years later, after her father died without warning, she hoped to escape her grief by immersing herself fully into training a young goshawk she named Mabel Not exactly the scariest of appellations, is it She did a great job going into the cultural history and the applied science of falconry, in general, and of goshawks specifically Though she might have been tempted to soft pedal the bloody bits, she disclosed it all fully In fact, she made a point of reminding us and herself, as narrator that a goshawk is a wild animal that defies anthropomorphism Early in Mabel s training she noted this Everything about the hawk is tuned and turned to hunt and kill Yesterday I discovered that when I suck air through my teeth and make a squeaking noise like an injured rabbit, all the tendons in her toes instantaneously contract, driving her talons into the glove with terrible, crushing force This killing grip is an old, deep pattern in her brain, an innate response that hasn t yet found the stimulus meant to release it Because other sounds provoke it door hinges, squealing brakes, bicycles with unoiled wheels and on the second afternoon, Joan Sutherland singing an aria on the radio Ow I laughed out loud at that Stimulus opera Response kill.While I m on the topic of killing machines, I might as well highlight one of the best advantages a hawk has Her eyes can follow the wingbeats of a bee as easily as ours follow the wingbeats of a bird What is she seeing I wonder, and my brain does backflips trying to imagine it, because I can t I have three different receptor sensitivities in my eyes red green and blue Hawks, like other birds, have four This hawk can see colours I cannot, right into the ultraviolet spectrum She can see polarised light, too, watch thermals of warm air rise, roil, and spill into clouds, and trace, too, the magnetic lines of force that stretch across the earth The light falling into her deep black pupils is registered with such frightening precision that she can see with fierce clarity of things I can t possibly resolve from the generalised blur Macdonald was strong on other aspects of her hobby, too She was honest in analyzing herself and about how Mabel fit into the angst ridden rebuilding process Metaphors came naturally from piecemeal improvements and untethered flight Helen and her hawk were often portrayed as one in the same, with the former s powers of observation drawing the parallels close.I mentioned the mini bio within the book earlier To me, it was a key component in rounding it out White s story was included because he had written a memoir called The Goshawk that Macdonald had read as a girl She said that he was far from being an expert In fact, he often did the exact wrong things in attempting to tame and train Gos the name he gave his hawk But his book was than just a flawed how to book Macdonald was keen to dig into White s motivations and the reasons for his book s other literary and philosophical elements She discovered that he had a particularly unhappy boyhood, that he was constantly challenging himself to confront his intense fears, and that his homosexuality was viewed at that time as a kind of mental illness It was interesting to read what Macdonald discovered She made ties to his early life, to his famous book about Arthurian legend, to a would be sadistic streak, and to his attempts to train Gos.If there is any weakness in H is for Hawk, it may be in her descriptions of nature To me, they didn t wear well Maybe if my vocabulary included East Anglian flora, I d think differently This is a small ding, though, in an otherwise well paced and well constructed book Four stars, coruscating like the sun lit feathers on Mabel s light, powerful frame.