Daughters of the North

Sarah Hall, Author . Harper Perennial $13.95 (209p) ISBN 978-0-06-143036-7

Chronicling a journey of violence, oppression and fleeting liberation, this brutal third novel from the author of The Electric Michelangelo is a timely feminist commentary on war, gender, politics and identity. Set in a dystopian near-future northern U.K. where global warming, a fuel crisis, drug epidemics and a cruel totalitarian regime known as the Authority have savaged the land and people, the story is told by Sister, a young woman living in cramped terrace quarters. Sterilized against her will (the result of the Authority’s female sterilization policy) and forced to work in a “New Fuel” factory, Sister escapes to seek out Carhullan, a shadowy all-female commune run by the enigmatic Jackie Nixon. Carhullan is a hard-knocks utopia, in which women’s strengths and passions grow from manual labor, paramilitary training and intense, sometimes sexual, friendships. As the threat of the Authority grows, Sister rises in the ranks of the Carhullan resistance force, oblivious to the increasing similarities between the Authority and Jackie’s seductive, psychological control. Though the climax and denouement are sloppily handled, the overall effect is haunting, timely and well wrought. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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