H is for Hawke



h-is-for-hawkH is for Hawk

Helen MacDonald


As a child, Helen MacDonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.

H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.


There is a lot of buzz around the publication of this book, it seems to have struck a chord with a lot of readers.  Basically it is part memoir and part memorial to both T.H. White the author of “The once and future King” and “The Sword in the Stone”,  (these books were written in the 1940’s and are  about the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table), and the author’s recently deceased and beloved father.  The story is about a young woman who has a fascination with Hawks and Falcons, literature and the history of England,  she acquires a young Hawk and raises it and trains it to hunt.  The book is basically a beautifully written meditation on Hawks and birds of prey and  coming to terms with  grief and finally reconciliation and acceptance of things past.

Read By Katherine