H is for Hawk

I read H is for Hawk a few years ago on the Kindle but I loved it so much that when it appeared on Brotherhood Books I snapped it up. It certainly bears re-reading; a beautifully written, deeply felt meditation on many things -- wildness and grief, TH White, the history of falconry, the lust of the hunt, depression and obsession.

The aspect that seemed particularly apt to me at the moment, in this time of isolation, was the contrary pull of the solitary, and community. McDonald loses herself in identification with her goshawk, Mabel, but the more closely she sees the world through Mabel's eyes, the more she risks losing touch with what makes her human. In the end, it's connection with people that pulls Helen back from the brink of depression and grief.

Is it perverse that some of us have embraced this enforced isolation, and are even becoming fearful of the time when it will come to an end? Someone on social media yesterday said that she would prefer to stay 'cocooned away from the world.' I must admit I know how she feels, and it's quite a dangerous feeling.

Though H is for Hawk is a dark book in places, it's ultimately a moving and uplifting reading experience. Highly recommended.


  1. I had to have two tries at reading this book, because the first time - when it came out - I simply hated it. Couldn't bear to read it. It was just the wrong time for me, as I found out when I tried again. Back then, I couldn't sit with her grief. Perhaps it was too close to my own. Now I think it's a marvellous and beautiful book.

  2. Yes, it's very raw, isn't it. Definitely the kind of book you have to read at the right time. There is a lot of pain there.