Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter
Published by Faber & Faber
Published 25 August 2016
114 pages
Library book

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In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.

In this extraordinary debut – part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s compassion and bravura style combine to dazzling effect. Full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth, Grief is the Thing with Feathers marks the arrival of a thrilling new talent.


There’s a feather on my pillow.


I really didn’t enjoy Grief Is the Thing with Feathers. I loved the idea behind it, the twist on the famous Emily Dickenson line hope is the thing with feathers. I was also a bit influenced by the dazzling praise all over the front cover. I was sorely disappointed. The novella is beautifully written and poetic. The emotions of Crow, Dad and Boys come across really well. I just felt it didn’t make a lot of sense most of the time. The novella is beautifully written but rather flat and empty in spite of this. There’s not a lot going on beside pretty words. I also found the narration by Crow quite irritating for some reason. Grief Is The Thing With Feathers has great potential but comes across a pretentious nonsense.




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