The Hawkman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

I received this from #netgalley in exchange for my review. Interesting story of a WWI veteran and a young woman who both have traumatic pasts and their developing relationship. Inspired by the Grimm’s story, The Bearskin, there are elements of magical realism in the story. The writing was good, but the fairy tales and long flashbacks often detracted from the more compelling main story.
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A mysterious man, a legend, and a perhaps overly descriptive narrative. For fans of fantasy and folklore.
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This book wasn’t for me and I did DNF it. I can see why it will be popular though! I couldn’t get into the long descriptions. I also felt that the beginning prologue wasn’t a great fit and ruined the novel for me before I even started it.
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This book had so much potential! It is clear that the author can master language and charm it into beautiful bouquets of sentences, so it hurt all the more when the quality of some passages seemed to detoriorate. It felt as if the author got tired and just put less effort into the writing or as if the inspiration abandoned her. The language at the high quality parts was poetic and lyrical, and the use of metaphors and allegories was really cleverly done. A great pity that such a mastery of language was not present in every sentence.

I had the same feeling about the structure, too. It was a good idea to show the background story of Miss Williams and Sheehan through flashbacks but the use thereof didn't always seem so logical, or the flashback scenes seemed to last just the tiniest bit longer than they were supposed to. But what really bothered me, was the ending. It was for me too absurd and too suddenly intimate. 

Despite my criticism, I liked the story.. The horrors of the Great War and the suffering of the survivors, especially those with a shell-shock, is a story that needs to be told and retold to remind humankind of its own terrible power to wreck lives and fight wars without a reason. The description of Sheehan's struggles is heart-wrenching. The characters, again, had much potential. My favourite is perhaps Christopher who indeed goes through much change and grows into a fine human being.

I'd recommend this book, but not necessarily if the potential reader is feeling sad or depressed. The theme and the gloomy atmosphere might deepen the reader's negative mood.
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The Hawkman is part historical fiction, part fairy tale. It takes place in England after World War 1, revolving around 2 characters. A damaged soldier from that war, and the woman who is his angel. I found it to be both disturbing and beautiful. Gorgeous language and imagery. Interior monologues in which I found myself lost and wondering. A plot that fascinated me and lost me at the same time. This is a complicated, beautiful book. If you read it, take your time, as it is not a fast, easy read. I highly, highly recommend for those that like reading about the after-effects of war on soldiers, and the time and place in England shortly after World War 1. There was much mythology to delve into. 5 Stars. 

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I was really interested to see how fantasy and historical fiction would go together . It was a little jarring at first, but I really liked this story. Eva and Michael meet in an English village, and watching their relationship unfold with such beautiful prose was lovely. I found this to be a slow read but was entertained and interested from beginning to end.
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I wish I loved this book more. I liked the writing style, the characters were interesting and the story was heart wrenching, but I found myself skimming through pages at times.

This book is written from various points of view. I did not mind that and I think that it did work in terms of the story that was being told. In this way we find out how our characters came to be where they are now. I am not sure I quite liked Miss Williams, as I never felt I quite knew her, but I thought The Hawkman was a very interesting character, along with the various people surrounding the two main characters.

I did feel the book meandered unneccessarily at times, especially with Miss Williams’ stories,  which I found distracting, but the horrid insights into the Great War were well done and gave solid background to those characters it involved.

I think a lot of people will love this book, but in the end I simply did not connect to the characters enough for my liking. It did not provoke the emotions I wanted it to.
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The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May.

Mr Sheehan is an Irish veteran of World War I who lives in a prim, tutting, repressive, and (at times) poetic English village where everyone believes to be a hawk. Miss Eve Williams, a local college professor, choose to look pass their views on Sheehan (as either being beatific, rabid, nuisance, or impoverished) and we as readers gradually learn when narrative turns his way that he is Irish, a practiced pianist, served in the trenches and was held as a prisoner of war by the Germans. He and Williams share a heartbreaking backstory filled with pain, loss, and shame that sours in the present-day, when townspeople meddle in their affairs with the impropriety of words unsaid and seeming all-knowing without understanding.
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Thanks NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

This was a book I kept picking up and putting down, and not because I did not like it, it took patience and concentration to get through it. BUT! The writing was absolutely beautiful.  It was magical in its own way, and poetic. 

Eva and Michael were beautifully flawed/complex characters that you cannot help but fall in love with. Even Christopher, who doesn't see past decorum and classes is changed through knowing them and becomes a more likable character. I loved the patience, love and understanding that Eva showed to everyone, but especially Michael. I love how straightforward she is, she won't stand to be a hypocrite and will call one out on it.

"I know that he is a human in need, as human as you, me, or even your father," Miss Williams said. "And that is all I need to know. His humanity qualifies him for my care and sympathy. And his humanity has been injured, gravely," 

And then there is Michael. Your heart breaks for him over and over, hoping for redemption, resolution and happiness. 

My only gripe would be that there were some parts that dragged and rambled on, which is why I ended up putting it down a lot.
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4.5 Stars

The Hawkman is a hybrid retelling of the well-known La Belle et la Bête/ The Beauty and the Beast by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and a lesser-known tale by the Brothers Grimm, Der Bärenhäuter (The Bearskin). (You can read a summary of the Brothers Grimm story below,* or read about it yourself here /link removed/.) These two fairy tales are superimposed upon or interwoven with the story of Michael Evans Sheehan, a traumatized veteran of the Great War (World War I) and Eva William, the angel that saves him. This is a very poignant, quiet story. As you move past the prologue it is easy to somehow forget how things will end. The story of how we get to that prologue is unbearably sad. This is an unusual book of magical realism that will appeal to those who enjoy books that are more literary in tone. By the book’s end, I was in tears.


*In Der Bärenhäuter (The Bearskin) a young man, having served and survived a great war, finds himself without means or purpose at the war's end. Making a bargain with the Devil to become a gentleman of means, by assuming an unpleasant, animal-like appearance by wearing a bearskin for seven years. Midway through his years in the bearskin, he meets a penniless father, depressed over the plight his circumstances have put him and his three daughters in, and gives the old man money in addition to paying his present debts. The man offers the kindly bearskin wearer one of his daughters as a wife. The older two daughters shrink in horror at the thought but the youngest, a gentle and faithful girl, who unlike her older sisters, manages to see the path of righteousness (the Brothers Grimm were devout Calvinists and this was a time when women were chattel) and loyally pledges herself to him. When he returns to the inn after his seven years are finished, he is clean, handsome, and rich. The youngest daughter is rewarded for her loyalty to him with marriage. The two older sisters, kicking themselves for refusing to marry a bearskin wearing man, commit suicide, granting the Devil two souls instead of the single one he held claim to for the seven years the hero wore the bearskin.
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This book caught my attention for the description and the beautiful cover, unfortunately I did not like the book. It’s a great story and am sure many will love the book. The book has beautiful language a dramatic plot and poetic writing, but I’ve fail to connect with the story. 

The first chapters were good, but I got lost in the beautifully and detailed descriptions of the trenches in WWI. Don’t take me wrong, it's an important part of the story that affected deeply the life of Mr. Sheehan but the result was a painfully slow reading. You don’t need to embellish with poetic descriptions the carnage of the trenches in WWI, a few crude descriptions of the horrors would've been more than enough. Therefore, I lost the attention in the book and stop enjoying the story, the ending felt a bit rushed after the long and detailed descriptions. 

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many Thanks to Amberjack Publishing, Jane Rosenberg LaForge and Netgalley for the opportunity.
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Please see my notes to publisher for my thoughts on this title. Thank you so much for approving me for a copy of this book!
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Though it is nicely written and some phrases are quite delicate, overall it feels like those guilty-pleasure romantic historicals I only very rarely read. I did not finish it for this very reason. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction who like flowery style. Many thanks for the advance copy.
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I received this book from netgalley in exchange for a honest review 

This book wasnt my usual type of book. It did not appeal to me and was unable to hold my interest. It seemed to jump between genres. Part historical fiction and part legend
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This book is beautifully written and lyrical. Two very different characters an American schoolteacher and an Irish musician, survive together in a small cottage. This historical fiction novel is set in the late 19th century. It is a realistic magical tale set during the events of the Great War.
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3.5 stars

What attracted me to this story was not only the synopsis but also the gorgeous cover. It is a story of the aftermath of war. An America schoolteacher plus an Irish musician have been been touched by the ravages of war. They come together in an English village where they try to hide from the world that has shattered them. However, the small minds of the community wager against them and break into the quiet and serenity this couple so very much need.

This was a beautifully told story, the writing was the key to what occurred to this young man and how, because of the things he had to do, becomes something considered less than human. The man, Michael thought he was a bird and the woman, Eva tried to restore him. The time period was that after World War 1 and again for this reader the writing was the key. There is fantasy and reality in the telling. 

While the story was well told, it was a book that required much time and concentration to read. It was a bit of a brooding tale and one that might not appeal to many readers.

Thank you to Jane Resenberg LaForge, Amberjack Publishing, and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this novel.
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The point of this book is not so much the story but the beautiful writing. Fairy tales woven seamlessly into the story of a young woman and the man she tries to save. The author does a beautiful job of showing us how a man can go from being a man to less than human when having to do unspeakable things, in a way that makes so much more sense than anything I have ever read before. So many emotions while reading him going through his emotions, or the emotions he stomps down. What a beautiful story.
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4 mesmerizing stars to The Hawkman! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

I knew in reading the description that this book would be a stretch for me. It combines a genre I love, historical fiction, with fantasy/mythology, and I was intrigued with the two would mesh. I had to open my mind as a reader and relax into this story, and once I did, I found it remarkable. 

World War II is a time I read about frequently, and I was pleased that this book actually takes place during World War I. Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, The Bearskin, as well as experiences of prisoners-of-war in German prison camps, The Hawkman is a completely original and absorbing tale. 

At the heart of the story are an American school teacher and an Irish musician, Eva and Michael, who meet in an English village. The peacefulness of their life together is tested, and a “legend” is in the making at the same time. 

The author, Jane Rosenberg LaFarge, writes with colorful, beautiful prose. The Hawkman has the mystical-ness one looks for in a fairy tale. As I said above, it took patience on my part to enjoy this book, but I did. Oh, how I did. 

Thank you to Jane Rosenberg LaForge, Amberjack Publishing, and Netgalley for the ARC.
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“this a story of a man who thought he was a bird and the woman who helped him find his humanity again” 

Oh gosh the writing was so beautiful 
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This novel wasn't for me. The premise was interesting and that cover - WOAH! But once again, I was drawn in by a cover (See: Paris by the Book). The idea of a WWI novel really intrigued as most war novels are set in WWII. I wanted more historical fiction and less magical realism in the book - which for me, fell short of actual magical realism. The characters are dark and gloomy, and not in a "good way," in a depressing way. Now, I know what you're thinking - it's about The Great War, it is depressing! But this was supposed to hinge on a fairy tale and granted the Grimm Brother's Tale were dark, they still held moral lessons and ideas - villains were punished, good guys still won most of the time (yes, I've read the collection as has my son). This fell short of any type of dignified ending.

Now - I will say that LaForge is excellent at descriptive writing. Her narrations of the Hawkman and his appearance alone took me directly into this world. Her use of language is unsurpassed so I wouldn't dismiss this author, I jsut didn't care for this novel. It moved too slow for me in terms of plot and the Hawkman himself is the only character I found any connection with, and it was minimal. 

The novel is based on a German fairy tale - The Bearskin.

While this isn't my "cup of tea" if you enjoy magical realism, I would certainly give this a go.  🍷🍷🍷
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