George: A Magpie Memoir (Hardcover)

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June 2023 Indie Next List

“Frieda Hughes, poet, painter and home repair fanatic, moves to a broken-down home in Wales with a garden of despair. What more could a creative soul want? George, an endless source of fascination, as it turns out. What a wonderful tale!”
— Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA


He was a hectic, unprincipled bird, but it was impossible not to love him.” From poet and painter Frieda Hughes, a memoir of love, obsession, and feathers.

When Frieda Hughes moved to the depths of the Welsh countryside, she was expecting to take on a few projects: planting a garden, painting, writing her poetry column for The Times (London), and possibly even breathing new life into her ailing marriage. But instead, she found herself rescuing a baby magpie, the sole survivor of a nest destroyed in a storm—and embarking on an obsession that would change the course of her life.

As the magpie, George, grows from a shrieking scrap of feathers and bones into an intelligent, unruly companion, Frieda finds herself captivated—and apprehensive of what will happen when the time comes to finally set him free.

With irresistible humor and heart, Frieda invites us along on her unlikely journey toward joy and connection in the wake of sadness and loss; a journey that began with saving a tiny wild creature and ended with her being saved in return.

About the Author

Born in London in 1960, Frieda Hughes, the daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, is an established painter and poet. She has written several children’s books, eight collections of poetry, articles for magazines and newspapers, and was The Times (London) poetry columnist. As a painter, Frieda regularly exhibits in London and has a permanent exhibition at her private gallery in Wales, where she resides with fourteen owls, two rescue huskies, an ancient Maltese terrier, five chinchillas, a ferret called Socks, a royal python, and her motorbikes.

Praise For…

"George the magpie trashes the author's house, terrifies the cleaning lady, and helps tank her failing marriage—and yet you cannot help falling madly in love with him. Frieda Hughes observes this little black and white bird with the meticulous eye of a naturalist and the penetrating lyricism of a poet. This book is a joy from beginning to end."—Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus 

“A charming diary of life with a tame magpie—despite George's bad behaviour, [George] will render corvid lovers (like me) green with envy!” —Katherine May, author of Wintering

“Illustrated throughout with pen-and-ink drawings, this charming memoir about the author’s accidental adventures in avian rescue offers tantalizing insights into her struggle to fly free of the difficult emotional legacy bequeathed by her literary-icon parents, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. A poignantly heartwarming delight.” Kirkus Reviews

“Lovely. . . In lyrical prose full of introspection and humor, Hughes describes George being washed by her dogs, his learning to fly, and his curiosity about everything. . . Enlivened with Hughes' drawings, this portrait of a bird mirrors how each of us maneuvers through our own existence.” —*starred* Booklist

“In this funny, tender memoir, Frieda Hughes casts a brilliant light into her relationship with George, a member of the most beautiful and fascinating of avian species, the magpie. As she shows us the challenges, frustrations, anxieties, love and joy which may be gained by closeness to another being, Hughes perfectly illustrates how our lives may be enriched and expanded by the experience.” —Esther Woolfson, author of Corvus

“There is an astringent beauty to Frieda Hughes' George. It's one of those books that appears to be about one thing-in this case, hand-rearing the eponymous orphan magpie—whilst being about something altogether more profound: love, loss and how inextricably linked they are. Love comes alive in Hughes' pages as an act of acute attentiveness. Loss lingers in the margins, but George doesn't baulk at the shadows. Instead, this book pulses with a defiant wonder at the living world, as wild and unruly as our feathered hero.” —Polly Morland, author of Fortunate Woman: A Country Doctor's Story

“Reading this book was like coming home. You'll be transported to Frieda's kitchen table in Wales, where she'll tell you her moving and funny story over a steaming mug of tea—three dogs on her lap—and a magpie perched on her head. Yet more proof—if it were needed—of how connecting to the wildlife around us has the power to put our troubles into perspective, teach us lessons about life, and provide solace for a bruised soul. Curl up in a comfy chair, make yourself a large pot of tea, and immerse yourself in the world of Frieda and George. You won't regret it.” —Charlie Corbett, author of 12 Birds to Save Your Life: Nature's Lessons in Happiness

Product Details
ISBN: 9781668016503
ISBN-10: 1668016508
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English