… but this felt like student work to me. It’s another book I just didn’t get the hype over, even if I enjoyed quite a lot about it. The blending of the three stories just never gelled for me. I think that the crossover between T.H. White’s experience training a goshawk and MacDonald’s could have sustained a book, and that training a goshawk while mourning one’s father could have, but the three together made the book feel disjointed to me.
I kind of wish that she had focused more on the hawk training, as her experiences with Mabel resonated the most with me, and the context of her father’s passing isn’t overwhelming but does shadow the training. The T.H. White passages didn’t feel connected except for the active excerpts from his own Goshawk book or MacDonald’s speculation about the training, which you’d think would be the entirety of the White passages but aren’t.
This is the sort of book I’m not sorry I read – I certainly enjoyed it as I was reading it (and weirdly I already knew a bit about training a falcon thanks to a college professor who noted that the courtship of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew was likely an intentional parallel to training a falcon, right down to the staying up all night with her that MacDonald went through with Mabel). But I’m really confused how this made it on to the top of so many “book of the year” / “best of” lists, as it felt solid but not lasting, at least to me.