The Carhullan Army (3 stars)

Sarah Hall



Considering the recent spate of unseasonable weather and car bombs, Sarah Hall’s third novel can’t help but have a certain resonance. Set in a not too distant future, where the combination of rising tides and an ongoing fight against faceless foreign enemies has caused the collapse of social order in Britain, The Carhullan Army recounts one woman’s fight against The Man, both figurative and literal.

Detained in a Cumbria town under a shady Orwellian central regime known as The Authority, Sister flees to the countryside, where she joins a commune of other ‘unofficial’ females, led by butch talisman Jackie Nixon. There she finds a new kind of personal assertion – physical, spiritual and sexual – which she turns against the forces that bound her. It’s an interesting twist on the futuristic doom and gloom prophecy, shot with plenty of pace and grit. Hardly stuff that will have you storming the barricades, but still poignant reading for these dangerous and rainy times.

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