We suggest this…

if you are dealing with questions about your childhood, especially a difficult or absent relationship with a father – or simply as a beautiful memoir.

A quick summary

In Featherhood, Charlie Gilmour tries to unravel the mystery of his father’s disappearance from his life, and to explore the  impact his father’s absence had on him. He finds an extraordinary connection to the present and the past though the magpie that falls from its nest into his life, and leads him to understand what it takes to make a nest of one’s own. Compelling, poignant and deeply satisfying.

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Our review (by Adria Stubbs)

This was one of those rare books that I didn’t want to finish, gripping in its intensity yet slow burning at the same time. In writing his life story the author tries to unravel the mystery of a father who disappeared from his life when just a baby. Gilmour explores some of the physical, emotional and psychological consequences of this absence with sensitivity and grace. His exploration might be compared to the gradual unravelling of a white silk cocoon: strange, foreign, ill-advised by some and unpredictable.

Featherhood, a memoir, was awarded ‘Book of the year 2021’ by a number of commentators (The Guardian, The Times, etc). It’s described as a nature book and the author admires H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald for obvious reasons. Both deal with the loss of a father through nature and a relationship between human and bird, in extraordinary, beautiful writing. In the case of Featherhood this key relationship is between a man and a magpie and appears to echo the author’s father’s experience of befriending a jackdaw. It is hard not to be effected by the level and depth of interest transferred from human to corvid and vice versa and the power of the emotional connection. If I was disappointed with the book at all it was in having to alternate between an examination of the human-bird relationship and an examination of the father-son relationship, a constant feeling of having to say goodbye to something meaningful. But perhaps this was one of the author’s intentions?

For those with their own experience of absent fathers this book may be enjoyable but also painful and even frightening in places. There is a shocking absence of understanding by many people in the lives of both son and father. The author speaks ‘truth to pain’ in a way that feels difficult but at the same time deeply satisfying and poignant.

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 266 g
Dimensions 197 × 128 × 36 mm
ISBN 9781474609487

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