This is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time. It is the memoir of a woman wrestling with grief over her father’s death. It’s the story of the same woman, a falconer — more precisely, an austringer — who immerses herself in the training of her goshawk, Mabel, to channel her pain. It’s also a portrait of T.H. White, author of the The Sword in the Stone, who turned to falconry to wrestle with his own demons and whose life is presented as a tragic counterpoint. Finally, it’s a reflection on the tenuous divide between civilization and the wild, between solitude and loneliness, between death and life.
The author’s prose is poetic and evocative, offering the reader vivid images of Mabel at rest and on the hunt. Macdonald is amazingly effective at making the reader feel that they too are beside her in the English fields, damp, sweaty and exhilarated. More than once I completely lost myself in this book, which is all I can ask for.
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Michael Dunn
Rating: Highly Recommended