Vesper Flightsby Helen Macdonald
From the New York Times bestselling author of H is for Hawk and winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction, comes a transcendent collection of essays about the natural world
Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.
Helen Macdonald’s bestselling debut H is for Hawk brought the astonishing story of her relationship with goshawk Mabel to global critical acclaim and announced Macdonald as one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers. H is for Hawk won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction and the Costa Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, launching poet and falconer Macdonald as our preeminent nature essayist, with a semi-regular column in the New York Times Magazine.
In Vesper Flights, Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.
Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing massive migrations of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.
By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.
“Breathtaking . . . Helen Macdonald renders an indelible impression of a raptor’s fierce essence—and her own—with words that mimic feathers, so impossibly pretty we don’t notice their astonishing engineering.”—New York Times Book Review (cover review)
“Beautiful and nearly feral . . . H Is for Hawk reminds us that excellent nature writing can lay bare some of the intimacies of the wild world as well.” —New York Times
“Macdonald is a poet, her language rich and taut.”—Chicago Tribune
“Captivating and beautifully written, it’s a meditation on the bond between beasts and humans and the pain and beauty of being alive.”—People (Book of the Week)
“One of the loveliest things you’ll read this year . . . You’ll never see a bird overhead the same way again. A-”—Entertainment Weekly
“Coherent, complete, and riveting, perhaps the finest nonfiction I read in the past year.”—New Yorker
“An elegantly written amalgam of nature writing, personal memoir, literary portrait and an examination of bereavement. . . . It illuminates unexpected things in unexpected ways.”—Washington Post
“Glows and burns.”—Wall Street Journal
“Assured, honest and raw . . . a soaring wonder of a book.”—Boston Globe