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.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 03/04/2008
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571236602
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Review by timjones
"The Carhullan Army" is a feminist dystopia set in the Lake District of the UK, a few decades in to the future, when climate change and peak oil have combined to collapse British society into a sub-Orwellian autocracy. The protagonist escapes (surprisingly easily) from this society and makes her way to the all-woman farm Carhullan, high in the mountains. It turns out that Jackie, the leader of Carhullan, has more on her mind than remaining separate from the system: she wants to destroy it.This book has a lot of good points: the description of the landscape and of the the workings of the farm are both excellent. But the ending, which should have been dramatic, is botched, so rushed that most of the impact of the climax is lost.This book has been compared with "The Handmaid's Tale", but I think a much closer comparison is with Suzy McKee Charnas's superb "Holdfast Chronicles" series - "Walk to the End of the World" and its sequels. Unfortunately, despite its promising start, "The Carhullan Army" is nowhere near as good.