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Daughters of the North

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  2,966 Ratings  ·  448 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.
Kindle Edition, 209 pages
Published November 25th 2010 by Faber and Faber Ltd (first published August 16th 2007)
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Bonnie Never mind, I got the answer after looking back at the Table of Contents. "Data Lost" is in the two chapters entitled "Partial Corruption" -…moreNever mind, I got the answer after looking back at the Table of Contents. "Data Lost" is in the two chapters entitled "Partial Corruption" - disappointing letdown as what was promised and led up to was not delivered.(less)
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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 Along the way, civil society has disintegrated and democracy has been replaced by a totalitarian regime known only as the Authority, which has imposed strict control on the population under the disguise of a recovery plan - population is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
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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.
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
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.
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
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Pointless. Waste of time. "Sister" fled what she perceived as an oppressive, restricted and controlling environment just to exchange it for a violent, cold and equally oppressive commune-like community run by a crazy lady. She wanted to be free; I think she ended up in a more horrible environment.
Melissa Eisenmeier
Daughters of the North was so good I just could not put it down. It's an amazing book.
Althea Ann
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Andy Weston
I'm totally out of my depth here as the subject matter isn't what attracted me to the book. I live in the area. Carhullan is a building I pass frequently when running in the local fells. Sarah Hall is an old girl of the school I am working at currently. The setting is the Eden Valley with the story based on a dystopian future in which Penrith is under siege from the 'Authority'. Hall's heroine, Sister, joins up with a group of other women camping rough on the fellside at Carhullan. The 'army' ar ...more
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short, spare, and deceptively simple novel is a first person account of a dystopian post-Brexit future. I read quite a bit of dystopian fiction and neither writing nor characterisation struck me as outstanding here. The distinctive and interesting feature is the self-sufficient all-woman farm-commune that the narrator flees to. In particular, the militia that the commune trains up in response to an external threat. I think ‘The Carhullen Army’ would be interesting to read with The Power, wh ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-amazonia
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
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
Dystopian fiction is not a genre I generally gravitate towards, but Sarah Hall is such a wonderful writer that I found myself enthralled by this tale of a splinter group of women living off the grid of a future England now under the totalitarian rule of "The Authority". This novel did not touch me as deeply as The Electric Michelangelo and Haweswater did but I thought it was very well done and very much enjoyed it.
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, queer
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.
I seem to be trapped in a pattern of bad books. The latest, Sarah Hall’s Daughters of the North (also published under the title The Carhullan Army) is not a rewarding read. That’s unfortunate because it was my book of choice to read on the plane. The closer I got to my destination, the more annoyed I became with the book.

Daughters of the North is the story of an unnamed woman who escapes her existence as a citizen of the totalitarian-like government that now controls England (and maybe the UK?)
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
"My name is Sister. I do not recognize the authority of this government."

Ever want to know how someone could become a feminist terrorist? Well wonder no more!

This book was so damn riveting. It was described to me as The Handmaid's Tale meets Children of Men, but having read both, I'd say that description doesn't at all do it justice. Like both, Daughters of the North concerns a dystopian future in which women's reproductive freedom is brutally curtailed by the ruling government. And like The Ha
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq-characters
If the Handmaid's Tale is the original furious-but-terrified reproductive rights cultural allegory, then Daughters of the North is TNG. With, er, more guns, farming, and queer ladies in leadership. My Rodenberry analogy is crumpling, but my point is that Daughters of the North is an excellent escalation of Atwood's classic. Hall is channeling that anger and fear for our future into open, violent rebellion. The world-building is subtle and brutal by turns, with human-nature plot twists worthy of ...more
Allie Riley
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was absolutely brilliant and devoured it in one sitting. It is a bleak, brutal, dystopian novel and yet there is beauty within too. Hall's love for the area is obvious and her descriptions of the countryside vividly brought the landscape to life. This would make a wonderful film or TV drama. Powerful and thought-provoking, perhaps scarily possible. My only criticism was that it was too short. I wanted to know more.
Bart Van Overmeire
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: van-mij
Uitgelezen: 'The Carhullan Army', mijn eerste maar niet mijn laatste Sarah Hall.

De toekomst is natuurlijk weer om zeep, maar dit is niet de zoveelste dertien-in-een-dozijn dystopische roman. Een originele insteek, het verhaal zit goed in elkaar en roept allerlei interessante vragen op.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ebook, kindle
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
May 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, dystopian
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
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 about Sarah Hall...
“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.” 2 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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