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The Bird Catcher

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  126 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Margret Snow is the quintessential New York woman.  She dresses the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue by day and mingles in the downtown art world by night, always searching for her niche in a city intent on capturing The Next Big Thing as it flies into view.  Married to Charles, a professor at Columbia, and living on the Upper West Side, the backdrop to Margret’s life is made ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published June 2009)
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Rating details
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John Jr.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
If the editorial reviews currently quoted at Amazon are any guide (and I'm not sure they are), Laura Jacobs's first novel, Women About Town, may have been more widely admired than this, her second. Thought it's been some time since I read the former (and, for that matter, it's been a while since I finished the latter), I'm inclined to think that The Bird Catcher is an advance, in ways both large and small, over Jacobs's earlier work.

In this book, Jacobs has raised the stakes for Margret Snow, he
Bird watching is a very subtle hobby. Birders focus on the small things that are around us all the time, ignored by the masses of people who may be nearby. Birders have patience and a quiet, inquisitive mind that enables them to pursue a specimen in any kind of weather, and go where ever the search may take them. In Central Park, it's especially imaginative to think of these bird lovers spending their free moments searching, admiring, and carrying nothing away but their memory.

This is the backst
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I had an eerie feeling like this book was written for me as I was reading it (a la The Neverending Story), but in a nightmare sense in some ways. The protagonist is married to a middle-eastern man, is a birdwatcher and insect collector, and there are elements from the dance world in it, too. After suffering a staggering loss, this thirty-something New Yorker has to pick up the pieces of her life and get on with it. The timeline jumps around a bit, but in such a fluid way that you are not distrac ...more
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful little book. It was deeply sad, but the writing and Jacobs' art knowledge kept it from being maudlin. So did the birds - with their implicit airness, I suppose - and I really wanted to own one of Margret's shadow boxes. They sounded beautiful and a real meditation on life and death. My only complaint was that the characters seemed much older than they were meant to be.
Jan 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a rather disjointed story of a young woman's re-entry into life following the death of her husband. It is also a New York story with characters from the art, theater, and academic world. The writing was sometimes quite good, but overall the the story was thin and not compelling.
Jennifer Shelby
This is a book that centers around an unspoken tragedy. The author flirts with this tragedy through flashbacks, innuendo, and some well-timed hints, but we never get to live those moments in the book. This may be a kindness to the reader - we never have to feel that pain - and it puts us at a strange position where we stand over and watch the intimate details of grief without ever really experiencing true empathy. That felt odd to me, but at the same time it was this same strange distance that a ...more
Jul 18, 2009 rated it liked it
While there are some excellent descriptive passages about NYC, birds, and central park, there was something really "off" about this story - at least for me. It did, however, make me want to find out more about the artist Joseph Cornell and his work.
Margaret Dee
Jul 31, 2009 rated it liked it
My daughter, Stephanie recommended this book. It takes place in NYC. I almost missed my "L" stop this morning as I started the book.

Edgy book dealing with loss, creation and the ability to move on.
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was such a movingly sad or poignant book. Her descriptive passages are so deftly done, I had no realization of reading. The cover lured me in and she continued with such a little gem of a book. Really I have no criticisms as the reading experience was so sublime.
Louise Chambers
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was an absolutely mesmerizing read. I could not put it down. Perhaps the combination of artist/birdwatcher caught me, perhaps the rigorous transformation that the main character undergoes magnetized me, perhaps it was the quality of the narrative and the writing.
Sep 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Not sure what I thought of this book. At first it seems the author is very enthralled with name dropping so many polysyllabic words, places, names etc. I was a bit put off. But, I continued on and the plot evolved and had a nice warm ending. It wasn't anything that rocked my world.
Ariel Miranda
For the birds.
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grief is personal. Coping with grief is also personal. We all have our own methods of coping with the grief of losing a loved one. Grief can be so consuming that it leaves one unaware of how our grief changes the way we treat our friends and family, and also how the behavior of those who love and care about us shifts to make allowances for the self-centeredness we sometimes unthinkingly wallow in.

I loved this book. It was quiet. It was poignant. It's the story of a woman who dresses windows in S
Nov 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margret Snow is lonely and figuratively lost at sea. After the tragic loss of her husband, Charles, she loses interest in her promising job of dressing windows at her friend Emily’s art gallery and at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. Instead, she is a secret, amateur taxidermist by night, finding small dead birds in the city parks and near buildings to take home and stuff. “[She] always had a Baggie in her pocket, just in case she found something fallen.” Marget’s fascination with birds start ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the Umpteenth time, I'd have to express just how much this Novel had moved me, Thus I've given it a complete five star, and how it also ignited my passion for, well, Birds! Laura Jacobs was a new author for me, I started reading the book since the whole summary that's been given seemed to be promising, as I started reading the first chapter, I instantly wanted to be a part of the story being narrated, unfolded, revealed before me, it's society. The book Meditates around New York a place wher ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: imagining
"'You're a pretty girl, but is that all you're going to be? Haven't you noticed? Nature has one purpose for good looks, and that's breeding season. Beauty is a trap, Margret. All well and good in its place, but it goes.' He motioned farther up the flat. 'Look at those scruffy sandpipers heading into winter plumage.' She looked. 'Don't be a person who courts attention. Pay attention.'"

"Use them, he counseled, don't wish for a different space; let the space you have tell you what it wants."

Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so beautifully written that it is worth reading just for the language and imagery. The story is well woven, as well. The setting is New York, and the characters are elegant, intelligent, obnoxious and self serving (New Yorkers!). While I liked and felt sorry for Margret, I sometimes felt as though the author was condescending to me. It is hard to put a finger on it, certainly the writing is worth five stars, and the story was compelling. But, something made me withhold that last sta ...more
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book at the perfect time, personally. Mar is grieving an unimaginable heartbreak/loss and discovers a way to a new life through renewing her commitment to art. I love all the name-dropping in this book and the way it doesn't shy away from talking theory, either intellectual or social. There isn't much "action" but the characters are full and lovely and each has its own life spinning like a different world in her orbit. The prose is almost poetic. I find myself thinking of birds thro ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I empathized so deeply for the main character in The Bird Catcher. I fell in love when she feel in love, grieved when she grieved, and was distracted, then slowly pacified, and finally, empowered, by her rebound obsession as she was also. As someone who also has a love for birds, I found the descriptions of the quirks of bird watchers and their habits to be authentic, right down to described tedious attention to detail required for the preparation of study skins.

One of my new favorite books, hi
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to read this book, but I actually enjoyed it. I started reading it when I lost my job and I was under medical disability for my hands, arms and shoulders, which made it difficult for me to hold a book and read for any length of time. The main character, Margaret Snow, is a window designer in New York City who is also interested in bird watching. She finds some dead migrating birds and mounts them as a hobby. The book is well-written and the author engages the reader in the stor ...more
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful and surprising story about a window dresser in NY with a taxidermy hobby. I know it sounds like the weirdest thing in the world, but it's a great book. (Full disclosure: writer is a friend.) Laura (author) is brilliantly precise in her descriptions, and brings contemporary NY and a particular generation of women into crystal focus. One of the most beautifully written sex scenes I've ever seen. Loved it. My full review here:
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, the way the flashbacks skip around and then finally settle at the end was nice, and the story was interesting even though I can't really relate to the pretentiousness of some of the characters. The author obviously knows a lot about the subjects she touches on, art, window design, bird watching and taxidermy, or she at least studies them thoroughly before she wrote the book.
R Daniel
Mar 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's too bad that such a well-written book has so many problems. The motivation for the protagonist to start stuffing birds is never explored. Worse, the gay characters are stereotypes. And why does one of the gay characters, Joe, almost molest Margaret? None of this is clearly explained, and makes the characterizations unreal.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was difficult to start but a clear winner in the end. Our protagonist, Margret, learns to step out of her comfort zone many times during her life and finds reassurance that her choices were right. Many interesting themes from window dressing for major retailers in Manhattan to illegal taxidermy of migrating birds. I will read this one again in a few years....................
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I've never been to a large city like New York, so I really love reading books set in the city. One of the things that really makes this book different from others I have read is the descriptions of the natural beauty of New York. It really gives this book a different feel. The characters are well-developed and really held my interest. I enjoyed it very much!
Jun 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alisa by: Found on Firtsreads...
I liked it.. I mean, I dont really like bird watching but I did love the art-iness and how the chapters went from the "now time" to the past.. it was a smooth transition and I liked it. It was sad at times but the main character pulls her life back together after the death of her husband and realizes whats important to her and how to get back to it.
Kate Mcnierney
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it
I got this out of the library and read it over a long weekend on vacation. It is very NYC centered which is not something I usually look for in a book, since I am not much of a New Yorker. I did enjoy the birds, the art world, the characters and their relationships, and the way the book flowed unevenly from one chapter to the next moving forward and backward in time.
Mary Beth
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ayuh, I live in Maine now, but I grew up in the NYC burbs and this is how I imagine literary, artistic grown-ups in the Big Apple live, work and generally carry on. I loved how the main character, Margret, deals with finding love, losing love, her weird hobbies (taxidermy, birdwatching) and a cast of unusual, very NY, friends and coworkers.
Yona McDonough
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary book from start to finish. Jacobs digs deep to burrow into dark heart of grief and comes out on the other side, transformed and redeemed. Her descriptions of birds and the metaphoric uses to which she puts them are precise and stunning. I give it the highest rating.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I really liked this book for several reasons. The rich language, the New York setting and the birds! I loved the main character and loved how the story unfolded and how we watched the character grow as her life changed. I really loved all the birds and the art and windows.
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