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Daughters of the North

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  3,671 ratings  ·  514 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
Paperback, 210 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published August 16th 2007)
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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 Along the way, civil society has disintegrated and democracy has been replaced by a totalitarian regime known only as the Authority, which has imposed strict control on the population under the disguise of a recovery plan - population is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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nick Imrie
In the dystopian future of Carhullan, the greatest injustice inflicted on the people by The Authority is that women are forced to have contraceptive implants to prevent population growth due to the extreme food shortages. I suppose back in 2007 this might have seemed like a far-fetched dystopian idea, but nowadays an end to human reproduction is a policy enthusiastically supported by many activists who caper around our streets, glue themselves to trains, and wotnot.

Forced contraception is the ma
╟ ♫ 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. ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
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
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
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 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Althea Ann
Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Melissa Eisenmeier
Daughters of the North was so good I just could not put it down. It's an amazing book. ...more
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?)
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
A worthy entry into the feminist dystopian canon. What would an all-female separatist/survivalist group look like? How would they live? How would they interact and who would their leaders be? How would they react to aggression from outside? What would make them become militant? How would that training, that experience, change them? What is worth fighting for? What is worth dying for?

"She did not make monsters of us. She simply gave us the power to remake ourselves into those inviolable creatures
Diana * burningdesire_x3 *

*full review soon*
*self-purchased on Amazon. No need of sugar daddies called promo teams*

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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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, kindle
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.
This is a hard one to review because I liked so much about it and the book club discussion was really interesting.

For example, I didn’t think that it was a particularly British book in terms of language, but it’s hard for me to judge that, since having lived in the UK many words and phrases wouldn’t stand out for me. I did think that the particular climate issues driving the dystopia were super British - changing temperatures in mountainous areas was an issue back when I was in Scotland, over 1
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I did like this book I need to begin this review with why it could have been so much more, which will be difficult to explain without spoilers so please, I do my best to not spoil but tread lightly if you are thinking of reading The Carhullan Army.

The most exciting part of the story was skipped over and while I get that the part I am referring to wasn't necessarily a part of the story was author was telling, it would have added a nice bit of action and closure to what is truly a lovely sto
May 17, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I remember the day I bought this. I was in a thrift store, desperately searching for something to pick up and read. There was nothing on the shelves until I stumbled across this thin green spine that looked intriguing. The cover was interesting and the synopsis, which was gritty and dystopian, called me in. I was so excited to read what could be a new favourite.
Then I put it off for roughly a year... until I picked it up today.
This book isn't what I thought it was at all. Instead, it's a dystop
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Science Fiction &...: The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall (March 2020) 11 7 Mar 16, 2020 11:07AM  
January's Selection 1 24 Dec 08, 2008 05:04PM  

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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

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“So, tell me. Was it fear that stopped you? Fear of reprisal? Fear of what else they might do to you? Sister, how bad does a situation have to be before a woman will strike out, not in defence, but because something is, as you say, worth fighting for?” 2 likes
“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
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