This book hit my radar when it won the James Tiptree Award this year.
Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall is a very powerful, beautifully descriptive novel about a near future Northern Britain where a flood, the oil crisis, and international politics has combined to break down the normal governmental processes.
Instead, an authoritarian regime (that requires women to have a contraceptive in place at all times, and can “spot check” them in the back of a van at any time for this device) prevails.
The main character of this book is Sister. She is a woman who decides she can no longer bear this regime, and strikes off into the mountains to find a community of women in Carhullen founded by two women devoted to self-sustaining farming and free thinking before things went wrong.
The rest of the tale is about her (sometimes brutal) transformation from a doubting, frustrated person into a strong, confident tiller of the land and soldier.
For me, this book was very much about how we view our physical bodies, how our bodies and our biology limits or frees us, and the very thin line between abuse and “tough love.”
It’s about the things, many times terrible things, people do in the name of survival or freedom.
There were parts difficult to read because of the content, but the language itself was beautiful. There is an obvious love for the Lake District of Britain woven throughout this book.