What I'm Reading
Deep, raw and strangely engaging.
I was drawn to this book as part of my research for my Dark Ages novel Teon, because it is primarily about falconry and the intimate relationship between the handler and the bird. I had already had experienced the art of falconry with several birds of prey, from kestrels to golden eagles, and had a hands-on series which included an owl, merlin and a peregrine falcon.
The book is a memoir but reads like a good novel. Ultimately the training of the raptor was therapy for dealing with grief: the journey starts with the arrival of a goshawk and concludes when it is fully trained and the handler is able to cope with the death of her father.
The story parallels the exploits of T H White in his 1951 book The Goshawk and demonstrates the challenges of training of a hawk. It is a lonely and often harrowing account, depressing at times, but always brutally realistic showing the skills and human comparisons essential to live and survive.
H is for Hawk is an original and well written book, easy to read, although there were a few moments where I was aware of some straining imagery, but on the whole it flowed well. It is a great insight to falconry with great detail, showing the personality of the hawk and the quirkiness that evokes.
Winner of the Costa Book Award
Published by Vintage Digital on 31 July 2014.