Review published on April 19, 2016.
For me, this book has everything: an unusual story crisply and beautifully told, a wonderful sense of place and season, flawed interesting characters who were totally believable, eccentric and sometimes full of bathos, good dialogue and a central character that we grow to like, understand and root for. One also learns about wolves, their nature and the terrible things humans have done to them over the centuries.
The book is set in the weeks before the Scottish referendum and tells the story of Rachel, born and brought up in Cumbria but who is now working as a wolf expert in a wildlife reservation in Idaho. She is invited back to Cumbria by the 11th Earl of Annerdale to oversee the reintroduction of a pair of wolves into an enormous enclosure that he has built on his estate. She declines.
To tell you more would spoil the story for those who would like to read it but, suffice to say, Sarah Hall writes with the same elegiac feel for place and season as Sue Gee or Melissa Harrison. Her descriptions of weather, countryside and seasons are immaculately drawn. ‘The myrrh of autumn’ struck me as a particularly lovely phrase.The rapprochement between Rachel and her brother is sensitively told and the meditation on pregnancy and motherhood struck lots of familiar chords.
It is a book you can’t wait to finish because you must find out what happens and then, once the last page is read, you are desolated and have to go back to the beginning to read it again. I could go on and on, I enjoyed it so much.
The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
Faber & Faber pbk Mar 2016