Nick Klagge's Reviews > Ghost Wall

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
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really liked it

I enjoyed this novella a lot. Despite its title and (beautiful!) cover art, it's not a "spooktober" read exactly--just a book about people with nothing supernatural, though there's a good helping of people being bad. The story follows a group of mixed gender, age, and social class spending a week trying to live like Iron Age Britons as part of an academic exercise. Moss uses this setting to unfold a tale about gender and class dynamics. It felt in a lot of ways like reading a play, and with the short length, limited cast of characters, and spare setting, I think it could work well as one.

It seems like a tricky order to write a book about class when, the literary world being what it is, the audience of readers is likely to be mainly upper or upper-middle class. I had some awareness throughout of a "truthy" quality to the story, a sense that it played to an upper class audience's (my) preconceptions about class and misogyny, particularly with Moss's foregrounding of nativist mythology in the era of Trump and Brexit. Which is not to say that it's a crude portrayal--I think it also plays to our conceit that we're capable of thinking with a level of nuance, nodding respect to the unschooled folk knowledge of the working-class characters and tweaking the obliviousness of the academics. Still, I liked it better when I thought of it as a morality play, than as necessarily a fair portrayal of class dynamics in modern Britain (which of course it doesn't purport to be!).

I found Moss's writing to be beautiful, spare, and evocative of natural place. I'd be interested to read some of her older books.
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Reading Progress

October 19, 2019 – Started Reading
October 19, 2019 – Shelved
October 24, 2019 – Finished Reading

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