Book review: George – A Magpie Memoir

Frieda Hughes of ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ fame has a famous pedigree, which is covered pretty quickly and succinctly in the opening chapter of George.

Poets Sylvia Plath, who died by suicide, and Ted Hughes, who was often preoccupied, were the parents of both Frieda and her brother, Nick. Ted Hughes was known for his works which engaged with the roughest side of the natural world, Crow being one example.

Frieda, meanwhile, went down the art route as a painter. Here, though, we find a poignant piece of memoir about a very special bird, the baby magpie who joined and disrupted the household.

In George – A Magpie Memoir we read about the bond between human and nature, and about the personality of this particular bird who impacted the daily life of those around him.

Illustrated by pen and ink drawing which are full of life and love, this unusual book tackles both the work needed to care for a wild bird, and Frieda’s will to break free from her own childhood baggage.

As a fan of birds from the corvid to the humble pigeon, I found this book hard to put down and found it funny, profound, unpredictable, and educational.

Recommended for readers of nature tales, of curious friendships, and of those fascinated by the beautiful black and white birds who populate our parks and rooftops.

GeorgeA Magpie Memoir by Frieda Hughes is published by Profile Books and is now widely available in various formats.