Author(s): Helen Macdonald
Animals don't exist 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. From the internationally acclaimed author of H is for Hawk comes Vesper Flights, a transcendent collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world.
In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved pieces, along with new essays on topics and stories ranging from nostalgia and science fiction to the true account of a refugee's flight to the UK. Her pieces ranges from accounts of swan upping on the Thames to watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary to seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk's poplar forests. She writes about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds' nests, what we do when we watch wildlife and why.
This is a book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make the world around us, by one of this century's most important and insightful nature writers.
Macdonald is a glorious writer... Gentle as a summer breeze she meanders through her stories like a brook negotiating a forest floor... Perfect to drop in and out of on your staycation, this book will make you look a bit harder at the wonders around you. -- Nancy Durrant Evening Standard
Nature writing at its best... Helen Macdonald's eagerly awaited first book since H is for Hawk in 2014 is...all kinds of wondrous... I wanted to savour it, spinning it out across weeks, one chapter per evening, like a sort of lockdown Forty and One Nights of my own... Each and every essay reminded me what a gifted writer Macdonald is. Her prose is poetry but it also has a drenching kind of a clarity. And this is good because we shouldn't allow ourselves to be lulled by the sheer pleasure of reading her. For these are urgent pieces designed to open our eyes. -- Caroline Sanderson Bookseller Book of the Month
An antidote to so much romantic, reductive writing about the natural world... Macdonald's writing teems with other voices and perspectives, with her own challenges to herself. It muddies any facile ideas about nature and the human, and prods at how we pleat our prejudices, politics and desires into our notions of the animal world... Hers is a gritty, companionable intimacy with the wild... The essays in Vesper Flights...are short, varied and highly edible... Vesper Flights is a document of learning to see. -- Parul Sehgal New York Times
[Macdonald's] prose is poetic but it also has a drenching clarity... These are urgent pieces designed to open our eyes to the parlous state of the environment... Vesper Flights is a vital book for now because it...shows us that in respecting this diversity lies both the joy and unity of our own species. -- Charlotte Heathcote Sunday Express
Thrilling dispatches from a vanishing world... A powerful - and entertaining - corrective to the idea that the only hopes that matter on this planet are those of our own species. -- Tim Adams Observer
Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator and historian. Her book H is for Hawk won many prizes, including the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Costa Book of the Year, the Prix due Meilleur Livre Etranger in France, and in the US was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She writes a regular column in New York Times Magazine, and lives in Suffolk.