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The world has changed. War rages in South America and China, and Britain - now entirely dependent on the US for food and energy - is run by an omnipresent dictatorship known simply as The Authority. Assets and weapons have been seized, and women are compulsorily fitted with contraceptive devices. This is Sister's story of her attempt to escape the repressive regime. From the confines of her Lancaster prison cell she tells of her search for The Carhullan Army, a quasi-mythical commune of 'unofficial' women rumoured to be living in a remote part of Cumbria...
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Her [Sister's] brutal initiation is the start of an intoxicating account of her conversion to extremism. Hall's fierce nd shocking writing captures the cruel beauty of Cumbria. (Telegrph)
A dystopian vision of a disturbingly near future in which the floods have risen and the oil has run out, Hall's award-winning third novel has shades of Orwell and The Handmaids Tale, but is entirely modern and brutally fresh. "Sister", its protagonist, has fled "The Authority" to head for the hills and a tooled-up collection of rebel women. Cue harsh landscapes, harsher relationships and a brilliantly bleak denouncement. (Independent)
The Carhullan Army could be the Lake Districts answer to The Handmaid's Tale. Dystopian and projecting a strong femalepolitical imagination, Hall's fourth novel is set in a post-democratic, post-climate-change future... Hall's murky, hackle-raising landscapes are full of emotional and symbolic significance... when Hall writes scenes rather than synopsis, the personal drama ensures the political gravity becomes genuinely gripping. (Guardian)
In prose as stark and lyrical as the Cumbrian landscape, Hall picks apart notions of absolutism, individuality and moral responsibility. What does it take to drive a woman to violent insurgency? Hegemony of another sort, it would seem. (Observer)
This is also a serious political novel that convincingly explores the mindset of fanaticism. It anatomises gender with precision, suggesting that notions of women as a softer sex are ingrained nonsense ... Furthermore, Hall writes about the land with supple beauty, layering her words into a thick impasto that evokes the ridges and moorland she describes. (Alistair Sooke Seven (Sunday Telegraph))
Sarah Hall is garnering a reputation as a strong regional voice with her flavoursome historical fiction ... Hall is unflinching, yet sensitive, in her anatomisation of the psychology of survival, but she draws back from describing bigger events, in this case the final climactic battle, skipping straight to its aftermath instead. Excelsior is always a good motto. (Rachel Hore Independent on Sunday)
With rivers bursting their banks, the Stock Market taking a tumble, an ever-present terrorist threat at home and British forces engaged in two intractable conflicts overseas, the publication of Sarah Hall's third novel could not be more timely ... Like her first novel, Haweswater (2002), The Carhullan Army is set in Cumbria, and Hall's sharp and vivid evocation of landscape ("The light was fading fast, and the rust-coloured bracken in the banks looked like a tide of scrap metal") has the value of rooting her dark fantasy in a recognisable rural world ... the seriousness of Hall's intent and the scale of her achievement are to be highly commended. (Michael Arditti Daily Telegraph)
A community under threat was also the theme of Hall's first novel Haweswater and she is an impressive writer on all the alliances, compromises and tensions of group living ... This is a violent novel, strange and unsettling. It terrifies not because of its vision of a new world but because of its understanding of the cruelty and mess we make of our personal relationships. (Kathy Watson The Tablet)
Whether imagining the future or the past, Hall's evocation of place and atmosphere is a joy ... an accomplished, provocative novel. The farm and its community are a triumph of the imagination: you could almost believe the author had lived among them as part of her research. This, combined with the luminosity of the prose casting its light across an emotional and intellectual landscape as bracing as the fells themselves places The Carhullan Army at the vanguard of the new wave of futuristic dystopian literature. (Martyn Bedford Literary Review)
Her work renders the darkest emotional landscapes with a sharp eye and a warm heart. Hall's acidic poetry follows through in 'The Carhullan Army' (Mia Hansson Time Out)
An intense and visionary piece of dystopian fiction, from a writer of enormous range and sensitivity.
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