‘H is for Hawk’ reviews and excerpt

For anyone who hasn’t yet picked their August book club read I thought I’d share some of the ‘H is for Hawk’ reviews.

H is for HawkThese have been popping up all over the place this weekend as it’s just been published and below are just a few of them – spoiler alert: they really like this book!

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, book review: Taming goshawks and grief – James Attlee, The Independent

‘H is for Hawk’, by Helen Macdonald – Melissa Harrison, The Financial Times

H is for Hawk review – Helen Macdonald’s taming of a goshawk called Mabel reads like a thriller – Rachel Cooke, The Guardian

Helen MacDonald has also done some interviews, link to one below:

Helen Macdonald: ‘I ran to the hawk because I was broken and grieving’

The writer and naturalist talks to Patrick Barkham about grief, hunting, and breaking into the earnest, masculine world of nature writing

And for anyone sitting on the fence about whether or not to read this book, here’s a link to an extract:

H for Hawk: Helen Macdonald’s intense relationship with her goshawk Mabel

In an extract from her new book H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald explains how she came to tame and train a goshawk

Review: Gabriel’s Angel

4/5 – Very good

I enjoyed this so much. I found the writing style eloquent and easy to read; if that makes sense. An original concept, very funny use of black humour. Challenges conventional beliefs too.

Liz Smith

Review: Marriage Material

An astonishing debut novel!

Like a good corner shop pick-n-mix, ‘Marriage Material’ is a wonderfully mixed bag. Some sweetness, some sour, and like that unavoidable hard toffee penny, it has a way of periodically jamming your teeth; making you chew over it for hours between sittings.

This book concerns three generations of a Sikh family, centred in a Wolverhampton corner shop. It is dryly funny (the Boys II Men funeral suit dilemma is pitch-perfect) and also wise and insightful and horrifying and just wonderfully brilliant. The characters are well-drawn and believable, particularly Arjan’s mother and Ranjit. It regularly made me evaluate the complexities of integration from political, religious, historical and cultural standpoints, but it also reminded me of the complexities of simply growing up.
Although it covers some heavier issues, it does so with huge heart, and a deftness of touch that marks Sathnam Sanghera out as an author to watch.
This comes highly recommended. The final 20 pages, I’ll confess, left me breathless!

Leilah Skelton

Review: Burial Rites

Immersive, suspenseful… stunning!

Hannah Kent has produced something quite remarkable with her debut novel. We know from the very start the details of the crime committed, and we know the ultimate fate of our narrator, but there is still breath-catching suspense, heart-aching passion, and intrigue throughout.

The prose is poetic, immersive and simply stunning. I’ve not read something so lusciously descriptive in a long while. Kent has brought life to the hard labour and frigid farmsteads of early 19th century Iceland, and made flesh these few long forgotten people in a way that will haunt me for a long while to come.

A cautionary tale of the judgements we make based on the facts presented to us, a quiet curtsey to a historically maligned character, and a love letter to Iceland. The sort of book that makes me excited about what this young author has to offer next!

Simply stunning!

Leilah Skelton

Review: The Spinning Heart

Incredible!

Join us, as we lean metaphorically on the front gates of twenty one small town residents and discover through their often brutally honest monologues, the truth of a murder, an affair, a kidnapping and – most affectingly – an over-arching despair caused by the financial collapse in Ireland.

Each voice is unique and stands to break our assumptions of the character, formed by a brief mentions in preceding chapters. If any book stands as a warning of the dangers of hearsay, this is the one.

Ryan’s writing is clear and concise, though peppered with the most beautiful descriptive prose. This is the sort of book that I could easily have attacked furiously with a highlighter. It is also one that I think will possibly give more with a second reading. Easily one of the best debuts of the year!

Leilah Skelton

Review: The President’s Hat

Who wants to be a milliner..?

We find ourselves following a succession of happenstance hat-acquirers, and observe the changes in their lives that arise from a mysterious emboldening that wearing this particular hat provokes. This is a wonderfully charming, funny, witty, poignant, joyous, quirky little read. I have done nothing but grin at the memory of it for three whole days so far!

The excellent translation means that there is nothing lost of the warmth and humour in Laurian’s unconventional tale of a particularly special hat as travels through 1980’s Paris. So moreish, this novel could easily be devoured in just one sitting, but the picaresque narrative lends itself to commutery nibbling, too!

I am not at all surprised to see so many links to ‘The One Hundred Year Old Man…’ though I feel this little story has a bigger heart. If Winnie-the-Pooh claimed that “Nobody can be uncheered by a balloon” then this Bookseller insists that “Nobody can be uncheered by ‘The President’s Hat’.” I doff my cap to it!

Leilah Skelton

Review: Life After Life

Where repetition is far from tedious…

A repetitious plot with tweaks of circumstance might sound like it’ll confuse, or frustrate, or (heaven forbid!) bore, but it is in fact simply genius. I was spellbound by this book. There were parts that were cleverly comic and others that turned the marrow of my bones to ice. Spanning the end of World War 1 and through to the height of World War 2, we are immersed in stunningly detailed and gloriously descriptive scenes. The Blitz is visited from many angles, but in each there is an experience that leaves a sour taste of brick dust in the reader’s mouth. The characters are wonderful, too… Atkinson is a phenomenal talent, and this stand-alone novel is a great way to discover her. This is a ‘must read’, for sure! A unique plot by a great writer – my favourite combination!

Leilah Skelton