Daughters of the North
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Daughters of the North

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  1,649 ratings  ·  318 reviews
Previously titled The Carhullan Army.

In her stunning novel, Hall imagines a new dystopia set in the not-too-distant future. England is in a state of environmental crisis and economic collapse. There has been a census, and all citizens have been herded into urban centers. Reproduction has become a lottery, with contraceptive coils fitted to every female of childbearing age

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Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 2007)
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Kathleen Maltzahn
The best book I've read in ages.

I walked into Hares and Hyenas wishing I could find a well-written lesbian book I hadn't read, but knowing it was unlikely.

I picked up The Carhullan Army tentatively - I don't usually like science fiction - bought it a little reluctantly, and then sat up last night way too late because I couldn't bear to stop reading.

Sarah Hall won the 2006/2007 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for this book. This is what Suzi Feay, chair of judges, said:
“Sarah Hall's fierce, uncomfort...more
Sara
This was not the dystopian novel I was expecting. The dystopia is contrasted with a small utopian community, existing outside the official oppressions. And utopia here is short, hard, and messy. Resistance, how and why we choose it or don't, is central to the story. The protagonist gives up her name, and all that it symbolizes, when she arrives at Carhullan, fleeing the daily squashing of her soul and freedoms to join the women's community established before the social unraveling that is the bac...more
Joel
Lots of pretty writing propping up a bunch of very familiar dystopic tropes. The last paragraph is really good though (intentional echoes of Inigo Montoya? ... probably not). Ending well is always a plus.
Lillerina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ron
I read this as I know the setting well and already admired Sarah Hall's work. The idea of another near future dystopian novel attracted me and the lyrical descriptions of the landscape were as effective as in "Haweswater" but ultimately the unconvincing feminist element and its lack of detailed explanations of either the Authority or Carhullan philosophy left me rather disappointed.



The characters of Sister and Jackie had such potential as a mother/daughter revolutionary couple, but it seemed as...more
Althea Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vishy
I got to know about Sarah Hall when I read reviews of her book ‘How to Paint a Dead Man’. Most of the reviews raved about the author and this book. I went and got the book, but postponed reading it for later. Then I discovered that one her novels ‘The Electric Michelangelo’ was shortlisted for the Booker and so I went and got that too. During one of my subsequent visits to the bookshop, I saw ‘The Carhullan Army’ and I didn’t want to leave that, and so got that too. Unfortunately, all the books...more
Melissa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex
Dystopian novels are all disturbing, but this one is more violent than most. D: Bleak. Other than that, this book was super poorly paced - needlessly dragged on in the beginning, and resolved extremely quickly. Not enough characters were fleshed out, not even the narrator really. Hall tried to put too much in a little space. I wanted to like this, but it turned out very mediocre.
Tima
If you think this looks interesting, I suggest just reading The Handmaid's Tale instead. It's a better comprised, better written, basically same idea (basically) and doesn't read like a vat of slow-moving concrete.
Abby
I found the Carhullan Army to be a cross between 1984 and the movie Children of Men. This dystopian story took place in England after a corrupt government had taken hold of the country and stripped it of all its essence. Women were no longer able to conceive without consent from the so-called government, people were given food rashions that barely supported their bodies, and they were confined to dilapidated housing. The image in my mind was similar to the one created while reading George Orwell...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
It's a near-future or parallel-present dystopia. A surprising number of reviews I've read dismiss it as derivative of, and adding nothing to the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, but I've read lots of books in that space and I must say that I don't think it was a rehash. The narrative is vivid and gripping, one of those short, intense novels you stay up late to finish. Although I felt a little uncomfortable when a girl of Indian origin is described as having 'placid' eyes and given a certain cal...more
John
A beautifully written and haunting tale of a dystopic future for England. The government has fallen and been taken over by the faceless Authority, which controls most of the land and the people. The Authority also forces women to wear a contraceptive device, even forcing them on demand to show evidence that it is still in them. One woman, aptly named Sister (although she had another name at one time that she will not answer to) escapes from a controlled town to join a group of women at Carhulla...more
Ammie
It's hard to read this without initially comparing it to "The Handmaid's Tale", given that it begins as an anti-utopian tale with an emphasis on control over women's reproductive rights, although in this case the women in question are being forced into barrenness instead of being forced to bear. It turns out to be an entirely different story, happily--I've already read the Atwood book, after all. The narrator, known only as Sister, escapes from an urban center under government lockdown, and flee...more
Liviu

This is a very powerful novel - not necessary in subject which is on well trot ground though with a contemporary take with global climate change rather than religious fanaticism as the "villain", or better put the catalyst of disaster - nor in "world building" or action per se, since the novel has an odd truncated structure, but in voice, style and authenticity; the first person narrator and angry but determined voice works pitch perfect and you feel the anger, powerlessness, determination and...more
Wealhtheow
Jan 12, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: tiptree award winner
This won the 2007 Tiptree over Flora Segunda and Water Logic, so it had better be pretty awesome. Otherwise, I shall feel quite put out.

I haven't read this yet, but apparently environmental catastrophe hits and England is reduced to totalitarian camps. A much-mentioned feature of these camps is mandatory contraception for the women; a lottery is used to decide which few are allowed to bear children. Oh noes! Except, hang on--*bearing children is not an inaliable human right*, especially when the...more
Susan
This is a little book (barely 200 pages) that packs a big punch. Hall tackles destructive changes in the environment, the legitimacy of governments and their leaders, and gender stereotypes, all in a riveting story.

The entire book is told as a series of tapes, dictated by a female prisoner detained under the "Insurgency Prevention (Unrestricted Powers) Act." So the reader knows from the beginning that Sister (as she chooses to be called) didn't completely succeed in her mission. Yet I found the...more
Bibliophile
Sarah Hall's Daughters of the North is a dystopian novel set in a Britain of the not too distant future. Although its discussion of reproductive practices is vaguely reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, most of the novel is about the protagonist's journey to an almost mythical bastion of femlae dignity in Carhullan, a farm in the far north of England.

The protagonist, known only as "Sister", adapts to the harsh life of farming only to discover that freedom is as elusive in this p...more
Mat
Overall i really like a lot of where this book was going. Hall revisits a lot of what i liked about old school lesbo-feminist sci-fi but manages to take out almost everything that sucks about it. There's something kind of badass-inspiring about the author's version of 'herland', but, yeah, they have six different kinds of mites, have to work really hard not to waste away, and they squabble over sexual politics. Lesbian utopian icons as raging potty mouthed bitches with a penchant for guns. nice....more
Alexandra
I really tried to finish this book, but making it through even the first chapter was hard. It was SO boring. It was boring to the point I started falling asleep while reading it, which hasn't happened to me since I was in college. It just felt like nothing ever happened to keep me reading. And I really thought I'd like this book because it sounded interesting. But I can't say enough that the book was just too boring. Maybe I'll give it another try in a few months or years. Probably not.

I'm just...more
Amanda
Two stars for now. It starts off very, very slowly. Agonizingly slow. I love dystopia novels so I will give it another read in a few months. The idea of women escaping a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world to create a conclave is intriguing.[return][return]--I re-read the entire novel in May of 2010 and my opinion changed slightly. The beginning of the novel is indeed slow, and in fact that entire novel is slow and filled with lavish descriptions of landscapes and mindscapes. Then, the ending is s...more
Lisa (scarlet21)
Wow. Pretty dark and disturbing but very, very thought provoking! Great imagery, you can clearly imagine living in such a regime and to be frank, some parts are disturbingly familiar to recent events! It's a gripping read though I do feel that more could have been added in to it. Very worthy of a read!
Alex
I'm just... really conflicted on this book? Hall has a couple pretty phrases but there were also some that bothered me a lot, where I'd read what she had and think, "I would have written it much differently." I wanted to like it more than I did, but I couldn't care for a good portion of it, and I also found it slow reading, even though it's so short.

I'm also not entirely sure about the gender essentialism of this novel. I'm a feminist, but... like... I don't know if it helps to be like "ALL MEN...more
Kira
This is a pretty intense book! And I think a semi accurate portrayal of the future. It takes place in England after the sea level rises and their economy collapses, and as a form of population control they insert devices in women to keep the from getting pregnant and only by a lottery are you allowed to have children. The government takes over everything and moves people into settlements, and anyone who refuses is illegal. The daughters of the north are a settlement of women who live off the lan...more
Joey Diamond
Read this with a different title: The Carhullan Army. I never read speculative fiction so I approached this as someone who is endlessly exposed to discussions about Eco and political apocalypse and different ways of surviving in the future. This is all about whether it's enough just to survive as isolationists while everyone else is fucked over. Of course I lapped up the details of the remote women's commune that trains its own army as it grows its own food but the pacing is weird and I didn't e...more
Sandee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alee
I just finished reading Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall. This isn't a book I would necessarily normally choose. To be honest, I only had five minutes to run to the library so I just grabbed a few things without looking a whole lot. However, I did like the story quite a bit. Some of the descriptions are a little rough, but if you are interested in dystopian societies and want to take a good look at a frighteningly plausible future, then this is definitely your book.

Daughters of the North is...more
Jessica
Perhaps it was my high expectations, perhaps I was marred by having read The Handmaid's Tale earlier this year - I was not wholly impressed by this novel. There are interesting bits, but the unfeeling narration (on purpose, definitely) left me unattached to the events as well. Where The Handmaid's Tale's dystopia left me thinking of my own place in such a world, I hardly thought of what traces of reality were present in Daughters of the North.

To be sure, the journey of Sister from beginning to e...more
Mike Moore
A post-apocalyptic look at northern Europe in the days and years after some kind of cultural and ecological upheaval. With more than a few influences from Margaret Atwoods "The Handmaid's Tail," Sarah Hall delights with a literary masterpiece of human suffering and mastery over a collapsed social structure. I am astounded at this novel. It makes you believe that the collapse of society is around the corner and that strong women may come to their own rescue. Published in England under the title "...more
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182771
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Sarah Hall took a degree in English and Art History at Aberystwyth University, and began to take writing seriously from the age of twenty, first as a poet, several of her poems appearing in poetry magazines, then as a fiction-writer. She took an M Litt in Creative Writing at St Andrew's University and stayed on...more
More about Sarah Hall...
The Electric Michelangelo How to Paint a Dead Man The Beautiful Indifference: Stories Haweswater Mrs Fox

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“I lost the ability to fear and panic. Instead I felt practical and causal. I had never known time to pass so acutely before. I sat out through the night with the patrol, watching the bitter glow of stars overhead, listening as the season exhaled and the layers of vegetation shrugged and compressed, like the ashes of burnt wood. On the hills I was aware of every corporeal moment, every cycle of light. I felt every fibre of myself conveying energy, and I understood that it was finite, that the chances I had in life would not come again.” 1 likes
“She did not make monsters of us. She simply gave us the power to remake ourselves into those inviolable creatures the God of Equality had intended us to be. We knew she was deconstructing the old disabled versions of our sex, and that her ruthlessness was adopted because those constructs were built to endure. She broke down the walls that had kept us contained. There was a fresh red field on the other side, and in its rich soil were growing all the flowers of war that history never let us gather. It was beautiful to walk in. As beautiful as the fells that autumn.” 1 likes
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