Women's Prize Longlist 2019 Reviews

Women’s Prize Longlist Review – Ghost Wall

Ghost Wall.jpg


Publisher: Granta

Format: Hardback

Pages: 149

Rating: 4/5


My first foray into the work of popular nature writer, Sarah Moss, sees teenager Silvie being forced to live in an Iron Age re-enactment camp by her fanatic father. It is summer and instead of working or hanging out with friends, Silvie is wearing an itchy tunic for clothing and foraging for burdock root and bilberries. Did she choose this for herself? No. Is she good at it? Well yes, she has to be or she will feel the wrath of her angry, dissatisfied bus driver father. He requires perfection. Everything must go his way or his small family will be punished.

Sarah Moss writes so beautifully and eloquently that the atmosphere is built up around you piece by piece, leaving you feeling as though you might be in a camp in the middle of the woods. I felt the heat of the summer as she described it, I felt Silvie’s shame as my own and my fear towards the end was palpable. The prologue itself sets the scene for what proves to be a deeply dark and disturbing novella. 

I grew up in the shadows of the moors, so the language surrounding nature and the stunning descriptions gave me a sense of nostalgia that is rare for me to find in more recent literature. Any book that can do this certainly deserves high praise from me. I would definitely recommend the novella to fans of nature writing, and especially to those who are just starting to get into nature writing like myself, as it is plot driven also. 

My only issue with the book was that I would have loved for it to be slightly longer, so we could see a more detailed resolution or at least see what would come of the relationship between Silvie and Molly. However, this is a minor issue and did not prevent me from thoroughly enjoying it. 

I would recommend this book to everyone, but especially to fans of films such as The Wicker Man (1973) and Kill List (2011) and also for people who enjoyed Hannah Kent’s writing, particularly in The Good People (2017). I gave it a solid four stars, and will be interested to read more books by this author. 

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