The Carhullan Army Paperback – Oct 28 2008
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About the Author
Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974. She is the prize-winning author of five novels - Haweswater, The Electric Michelangelo, The Carhullan Army, How to Paint a Dead Man and The Wolf Border - as well as The Beautiful Indifference, a collection of short stories. The first story in the collection, 'Butchers Perfume', was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award, a prize she won in 2013 with 'Mrs Fox'.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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".
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.