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Daughters of the North

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  1,885 ratings  ·  342 reviews
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. A girl who will become known only as ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Maciek
Sarah Hall's The Carhullan Army takes place in northern Britain in the future, after an unnamed environmental catastrophe has totally changed the island's weather and replaced it with a climate that's almost tropical. Along the way, civil society has disintegrated and democracy has been replaced by a totalitarian regime known only as the Authority, which has imposed strict control on the population under the disguise of a recovery plan - population is made to live in communal housing in isolated ...more
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
Lillerina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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
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.
M. L.
The good: People's revolutions and women's separatist land movements are mashed up together via an appealing, often lyrical narrative voice which deftly avoids becoming fantasy-laden, propagandistic, or overly flowery. The writing is grounded, and the subject matter appears nearly tailor made for me. For this alone I'd forgive it many sins, which brings me to ...

The bad: The formatting of this book as a statement for official record was forced; this more than any other feature of the work preven
...more
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
Althea Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Tracy
I have mixed feelings about Daughters of the North/The Carhullan Army

I love a good dystopian novel and for the first 75% of this, that's what this gave me. The exact nature and timeline of events that leads up to the novel's start is vague, but enough information filters through that it works - a combination of global warming/flooding, depletion of energy reserves and oil, and outside wars to control remaining resources. The actual deterioration itself feels like it was too fast, from what was h
...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
Cass
Ugh. 1.5 stars. I gave it 2 stars to be kind, because the author has decent technical skills.

The writing on the page was generally good. It was neither amazing nor horrendous.

The story itself was missing. It was about a woman trapped in a dystopian society without any freedoms. It was her tale of escape, and how she found herself again. I think the ending was supposed to be profound but it missed the mark.

The woman escape to Carhullan, a group of woman living up in the mountains. They were rumou
...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!
Niki Vervaeke
De vrouwen van Carhullan is een zeer beklijvend boek waarbij je je, zeker als vrouw, levendig kan voorstellen hoe het er voor Zuster (het hoofdpersonage) aan toe moet zijn gegaan.
De beschrijvingen van de maatschappij, het regime, de maatregelen, Carhullan zelf, de sfeer die er heerst, de manier van samenleven, de "betovering" zijn alvast van zeer hoog niveau en laten toe het landschap en de manier van leven a.h.w bijna voor je te zien.
Het deed me ook denken aan de boeken van Margaret Atwood.
Tege
...more
Helen
Slow moving at first and then too quick at the end, this somewhat bleak tale of the lives of women, first in the cities where work is meaningless, women are not allowed to reproduce unless they win the raffle and hope is all but gone. There has been a catastrophic destruction of the old way of life, people no longer occupy the countryside, except for an almost legendary group of women at Carhulan. This is where our lead character heads and this is where she must choose - to hide or to take the i ...more
Thora
The writing was beautiful and evocative, but I found there wasn't much forward motion and it didn't end anything like how I expected. The last 20% or so felt a bit rushed, especially the last few pages.

Also, the segregation of the Carhullan women and the men bothered me. It's stated that any boys born to the women are sent away to a life of malnourishment - I don't understand why the boys (and the men) couldn't stay at Carhullan too. If Megan and the other girls had been brought up with unbiased
...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
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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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