Fledgling Days: Memoir of a Falconer

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9780879519476: Fledgling Days: Memoir of a Falconer

The author's adventures with her best friends - an orphaned owlet, a poodle and a troublesomne nanny goat - and many other animals are portrayed in this account of a country childhood spent in the enclosed world of the Chilham Castle estate.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An upbeat memoir in the follow-your-bliss mode tracks the charmed coming of age of an English falconer. Ford's interest in the ancient art of hunting with hawks grew out of a girlhood passion for nursing injured animals great and small. Blessed with an understanding mother, she rescues everything from goats (toted home in the family sedan) to birds of prey. As she matures, so does her interest in raptors. She gets a job as assistant to the falcon keeper of the nearby Chilham castle, then moves on to lecturing attendees of the castle estate's medieval fair, which include unruly crowds of French schoolchildren, ransacking Royal Marines, and a drunken stag party. Though she works hard to get ahead, Ford also seems abundantly blessed by good fortune: she and fianc Steve start their own falconry center, which soon grows to include more than two dozen raptors and treats over 100 wounded birds per year. They do film and advertising work with the birds, work that soon grows into a profitable sideline. Though she labors at times under the shadow of men, the outdoorsy country girl fits readily into a sport traditionally dominated by men and royalty. By the time she turns 16, Ford is ready to strike out on her own, moving out of her mother's house and rejecting a law career to pursue falconry full-time. Shortly thereafter, when she becomes the first woman to write a major work on falconry since Dame Juliana Berner's classic 14th-century Book of St. Albans, she's well on her way to becoming one of the world's foremost falconers: an ascendance that culminates in her service to Sheik Zaid of Abu Dhabi. Ford writes with effortless grace and a keen eye for descriptive detail. Her story is a lovely and passionate testament to the old saw: find a career you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life. A happy tale well told. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this captivating memoir, renowned falconer Ford recounts an idyllic childhood living in a small cottage at Chilham Castle Estate in Kent. Her next-door neighbor, the falconer for the estate, encouraged her obvious interest in the birds; by the age of eight, Ford had discovered her vocation. The first bird she trained was Wally, a Wahlburg eagle nearly half her size. Eventually, she learned to train all species of raptors and acquired birds of her own. Chilham Castle offered medieval banquets and jousting events during the summer months; one of the riders, Steve Ford, was also a falconer. By age 15, Emma had appeared in nature films and TV commercials, and her reputation as a falconer was widespread. She and Steve were invited by Sheikh Zaid to Abu Dhabi to share their views on falconry, a visit that inspired them to begin to teach. In 1982, Emma and Steve, now married, opened the British School of Falconry; in 1995, they launched an American branch in Manchester, Vt. In addition to the glorious birds, Emma's charming memoir is filled with other assorted beasts, plus a panoply of eccentric humans. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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