Sunday, April 12, 2009

Daughters of the North

Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall was originally published in 2007. My paperback copy has 207 pages. I wanted to read Daughters of the North because it was on the short list for the Booker and has received many good reviews. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as other reviewers. Daughters of the North is divided up into seven "files" rather than chapters. Basically, it is an interesting novel, but the conclusion was poorly handled, feels cut short, and left me feeling disgruntled. In the end, although it is a very intriguing story about a future dystopian society, I would recommend reading Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as a better dystopian novel that handles some of the same societal issues. Recommended

Synopsis from cover:
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 "Sister" escapes the confines of her repressive marriage to find an isolated group of women living as "un-officials" in Carhullan, a remote northern farm, where she must find out whether she has it in herself to become a rebel fighter. Provocative and timely, Daughters of the North poses questions about the lengths women will go to resist their oppressors, and under what circumstances might an ordinary person become a terrorist.

"My name is Sister.
This is the name that was given to me three years ago. It is what the others call me. It is what I call myself. Before that, my name was unimportant." opening

"For years I had not been out of Rith. No civilian had, unless they were being transported to a detention centre. The zones did not allow for transference. The original register bound people to their areas at the time of the collapse." pg.9

"Whatever you're doing, or think you are, you've got the wrong idea. I don't know. You better be careful of that lot, eh." pg. 17

"There were other choice words, no doubt, perched on his tongue, sitting behind his stubby decaying teeth, and I had heard them all before. Cult. Faction. Coven. I thought maybe he would spill his vitriol; reiterate all the worst rumors about Carhullan from the time before, when there was a media to be curious and to condemn the place." pg. 19

"back then he had seemed unafraid, undaunted by the gravity of approaching disaster, even when the market crashed, businesses began to go bust, and jobs were lost, even as the country began to stagger towards collapse." pg. 25

"The awful truth was upon us; things were breaking down, completely, irreparably; all the freedoms we had known were being revoked, and nothing could be done to stop it." pg. 26

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