Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall

I’m going in record saying that Sarah Hall is one of the most talented writers around today. Her first two novels, The Electric Michelangelo, shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2004, and Haweswater, were both set in her native area of Cumbria. Her third novel Daughters of the North is a bit of a departure, a dystopian novel, with echoes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Global warming has caused massive flooding in the UK. Fuel is scarce and drug use is rampant as people try to cope with their bleak lives. Women’s reproductive rights are strictly controlled; the government fits every woman of childbearing age with a contraceptive coil. The narrator, Sister, has fled her city to a utopian all-female commune called Carhullan. Yet the farm is no paradise. The women work hard, under the tight control of the enigmatic Jackie. Sister comes to love her life after undergoing a complete transformation. But soon the outside world breaks into their scraggy Eden forcing a brutal fight. Hall’s book ask how individuals respond when things get out of control and governments overstep their bounds. What does it take to make someone react? It’s a haunting question as you read about pharmacists who won’t fill prescriptions for birth control and states trying to ban abortion. I was happy to see Hall’s lovely book win the Tiptree award this year.

2 thoughts on “Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall

  1. Frances

    I don’t know how you keep up with all this reading! It’s shaming me to no end…I’ll just blame my daily overexposure to new titles…

    Maybe if I had a book blog it would force me to read? eh, probably it would just become neglected for the average four months it’s taking me to finish a whole book.


  2. Barry

    I totally agree – I read the Electric Michelangelo and was completely taken by it, and am awaiting the Curhullan Army (original publication name for what you call Daughters of the North). Last week I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Sarah – a very special moment for me.


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