4 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Who we are, defines how we interact with others. Crane is one of those people who has always struggled with relationships and friendships. A relationship in the past left his with a son who he hasn’t seen in a while. A later diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome goes some way to explaining the difficulties that he had. But he still prefers his own company, hence why he lives in a remote cottage. One thing that he is passionate about though is raptors he is a self-taught falconer, learning from the book and practical experience.
It was this obsession about falcons that would take him to Pakistan. He is there to buy some of the simple but beautiful handmade bells that are made by the craftsmen there. It was a chance find online with a craftsman, that put him in touch with one of these men and after he expressed an interest in their manufacture, he was invited to visit. The trip expanded and he stayed to see the villagers fly the local goshawks, and to see first hand how they train them and seeing how the knowledge of falconry is passed from father to son.
Nine years later he has two sparrowhawks in the aviary attached to his cottage. They are called Boy and Girl, naming them would create too much of a bond as he has been training and rearing them for rehabilitation and release back into the wild. He was training these two birds at the same time that he heard that his son wanted to get back in contact with him. Both situations, he needs to think carefully about what he is doing as it would be so easy to ruin the beginnings of the relationship with his son and harm the birds as their strength builds.
I have read a fair few books on individuals using nature as a crutch or support for the troubles that they are having in their life at that particular time and this book is similar to those in many ways. Where it differs though is that Crane is mostly happy with his lot, he knows so much about raising sparrowhawks that whilst they will be a challenge, it is not out of his comfort zone. Where he does struggle though is his limitations with regards to other people, in particular, his ex-partner and their son. He finds a determined boy who knows his own mind and who has a rare perception for someone so young. I particularly liked the descriptions of his travels to Pakistan and Kazakhstan and I thought this was a well-written book that links nature and family ties together.