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Carhullan Army, The [Paperback]

Sarah Hall

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Book Description

Oct. 28 2008
A Handmaid's Tale for our times, this exhilarating novel pits political oppression against the will to survive, in a nightmarishly believable vision of Britain in the near future. Following its union with the United States and a series of disastrous foreign wars, Britain is in the grip of a severe crisis; the country is now under the control of The Authority. But up in the far north of Cumbria, Jackie and a group of fellow rebel women have escaped The Authority's repressive regime and formed their own militia. Sister, brought to breaking point by the restrictions imposed on her own life, decides to join them. Though her journey is frightening and dangerous, she believes her struggle will soon be over. But Jackie's single-minded vision for the army means that Sister must decide all over again what freedom is, and whether she is willing to fight for it.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber And Faber Ltd. (Oct. 28 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057123660X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571236602
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 100 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #450,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974 and now lives and works there. Her first novel, Haweswater, was published by Faber in 2002. Her second, The Electric Michelangelo, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2004.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Carhullan Army - 2007 July 24 2012
By Sam Adams - Published on
Plot Kernel - England has suffered economic collapse. Life is oppressive and without hope. A woman (the narrator) joins a group of women who years earlier had formed a separatist community in the countryside. The women of Carhullan are dutiful and resolute.

This is not an exclusively lesbian community but males are not allowed to live there. In the early days women sought refuge here from abuse; and the leader, Jackie, is especially militant in her views about men. There is a small community of men nearby which some of the women occasionally visit. These men are ineffective and compliant.

Within the community of women there is a military unit, and late in the story the narrator joins this unit. The situation has changed in England and the lands and lifestyle of Carhullan are likely to be taken from the women. Jackie determines that the women must strike first and remove the Authority that threatens their freedom. The Carhullan Army will start the revolution that the urban dwellers, under the direct control of the Authority, are too subservient to bring about themselves.

"If detained, there are only 3 things we were allowed to say. Our names. Which militia we belonged to. And that we did not recognize the legality of the government. Nothing else would be given in response to interrogation or to incentives. Not yes, not no." (185)

Comment - This is not a story of a militia of women fighting against tyranny. Most of the narrative (there is very little dialogue or direct quotation in the story) tells of the narrator's experience reaching the group and becoming part of the community. Only a few of the women are sketched in as characters, and no one is given a fully developed personality. The title is misleading because the militia aspect of the community is outside the narrative through most of the story. There are no battle scenes, and only in the last two pages of the book is there any description of the fighting. We know from the first page of the novel that we are reading the "Statement of female prisoner detained under Section 4(b) of the Insurgency Prevention (Unrestricted Powers) Act".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read - EXACT SAME book as Daughters of the North March 13 2012
By Fenimore - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really love Sarah Hall as an author. She is an amazingly gifted storyteller - She won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize for this book and was nominated for the Orange Prize and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize for The Electric Michelangelo. Be aware, though, that The Carhullan Army and Daughters of the North are the self-same story under different titles. It IS a great story, nonetheless! The reader is reviewing "recovered data" which details the chaotic situation in Britain after a global environmental and economic apocalypse. The "Authority" has taken over regulation of employment, housing, and even procreation. All females, even young girls and the elderly, are fitted with IUDs and are subject to random IUD placement checks in the back seat of Authority cars. The woman known as "Sister" rebels and escapes to Carhullan, a last outpost of civility in an authoritarian nightmare. Carhullan itself, though, is ultimately drawn into the battle for freedom, with surprising consequences.
5.0 out of 5 stars science fiction writing at its best; right up there with Orwell Oct. 2 2011
By John P. Schnitzler - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've never read a book quite like this before. The story line -- about a dystopia brought about by terrorism, war and environmental collapse -- is entirely believable. Author Sarah Hall paints an incredible world: a collapsed civilization where the population barely suvives under oppression up against a rural, agrarian society dominated by women.
The writing is superb. It is a book that cannot be put down until the last words are read. I think about parts of that book almost every day.
Hall is up there will George Orwell and his 1984.

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