H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald

H is for Hawk, is a non-fiction book about Macdonald’s struggle with grief and the difficult process of hawk taming, and consequently her own untaming. It was the winner of the UK’s prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in 2014, so I expected it to be a good book.

The topic of hawk taming is a world so removed from mine, or anything I’ve experienced before, that it seemed like fiction sometimes (although I also learn a lot). Furthermore, it was written so well – with flow and moments of beautiful detail – that it was very easy to get drawn in.

Macdonald’s writing style meant the book was easy to understand and follow (even when describing events and using hawking terms that I had no prior knowledge of). Her unflinching honesty of these thoughts and emotions, controlled by her grief, made the book even more engaging – and heart-wrenching too.

However, I wasn’t so keen on the anecdotes about writer T.H.White. I found them interesting at first but I soon felt they were slightly irrelevant for the reader, although I understood why they were mentioned – as White was important and symbolic to Macdonald. Personally though, I just wanted to learn more about her own journey.

This was, overall, a fascinating book; I don’t read many non-fiction books but this was very good!



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