The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story (New York Review Books Classics)
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This powerful short novel describes the events of a single afternoon. Alwyn Tower, an American expatriate and sometime novelist, is staying with a friend outside of Paris, when a well-heeled, itinerant Irish couple drops in—with Lucy, their trained hawk, a restless, sullen, disturbingly totemic presence. Lunch is prepared, drink ﬂows. A masquerade, at once harrowing and farcical, begins.
A work of classical elegance and concision, The Pilgrim Hawk stands with Faulkner’s The Bear as one of the ﬁnest American short novels: a beautifully crafted story that is also a poignant evocation of the implacable power of love.
is peculiar to those who talk too much. Indeed our sociability as a whole had gone off; something a little sour and dark had developed in it. We had been sitting there too long. Alex, I fancied, was counting the minutes until they departed. But suddenly she grew hospitable. “You’ll stay to dinner, Madeleine, won’t you? Please, Larry, do. I can promise you a good dinner,” she added with an indulgent smile. I wondered whether she had mentioned this invitation to Jean and Eva, and whether the
of the horses, she would rein up short or turn aside. Suddenly she would not be there any longer, and Cullen still would be. Her ambition for him and his poor horsemanship—so it appeared to the others—betrayed him into prowess. Alex heard a club member say that once or twice at the kill his audacity and ferocity had been rather too much of a good thing; shocking. One morning his horse stepped into a hole and threw him right down beside the boar, a big wicked one already wounded; and he behaved
worried about it, the easier it was for my wife to get around me and have her own way. I didn’t want to be unjust to her; and if I’d made a scene before I knew what was up, you see, I might never have known. Terrible, the power a woman has over a man of my nature. You see that side of it, don’t you?” He told it tranquilly enough, though with some breathing between words. He reached out and grasped the cocktail shaker; and having helped himself, kept a tight hold on it. Once or twice he slipped
Alex’s expression confirmed my disbelief. Evidently it did not surprise Cullen. He sighed hard, which perhaps referred to pigeons aux groseilles; but he said nothing even about that. Alex left it to me to inform Jean and Eva of the superfluity of their dinner. I could scarcely tell how Eva took it, not well in any case: she gaped at me and fled to her bedroom. Jean on the other hand chose to be superior and calm. Something always went wrong, he observed, when the English upper classes came to
tiresome.” Cullen thrust the teasing hand in his pocket and returned to his armchair. Her eyes sparkled fast, perhaps with that form of contrition which pretends to be joking. Or perhaps it pleased her to break off the subject of their Irish circumstances and worldly situation and to resume the dear theme of hawk, which meant all the world to her. The summer before, she told us, an old Hungarian had sold her a trained tiercel. “I took him with me last winter when we stayed with some pleasant