Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Discussion Guide: H is for Hawk

Looking for great book club suggestions? As well as questions, author information, and what food to serve at your next book discussion? You've come to the right place. We will start posting these book discussion guides for you on the third Thursday of every month. If you have a title that you'd like to suggest we cover, leave it in the comments or email it to

This month's selection: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald


When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life.

Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

What to Serve to Your Book Club Guests:

Since hawks prey upon ducks, we suggest this Duck Prosciutto recipe from Bon Appetit. You can make the prosciutto and serve with crackers and cheese.
Fish and Chips are another great option in sticking with the setting of the story in England. Here is a recipe we liked from Tyler Florence.

For drinks, serve a nice tea, perhaps an English Breakfast tea.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the taming of Mabel mirror Helen’s own journey of healing and self-discovery?
2. In what way does H is for Hawk differentiate itself from other noted memoirs about grief, works of nature writing and biographies?
3. What new passions or obsessions have you delved into after experiencing a great loss?
To see a whole lot more discussion questions, check out Grove Atlantic's list of questions here.

Author Interviews:

1 comment:

kaye said...

I love the idea of eating duck while discussing this book!