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Come and chat to prizewinning author Sarah Hall about her brilliant new novel THE WOLF BORDER, our March Book of the Month, on 23 March, 9-10pm

(75 Posts)
TillyMumsnetBookClub Mon 15-Feb-16 13:36:45

Our March Author of the Month is likely to be your best literary discovery of 2016. Sarah Hall has already been nominated for the Booker Prize (twice) and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, BBC National Short Story Award, Portico Prize for Fiction, John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the EM Forster Award. With the outstanding reviews for her fifth novel, THE WOLF BORDER, Sarah has definitely become, as the Mail agreed, ‘one of our finest fiction writers’. THE WOLF BORDER is set in Cumbria, on a private moorland estate owned by an eccentric Earl who is determined to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to England. Rachel Caine is the dynamic expert in charge of the project, recently returned home after a decade in Idaho. Both the wolves and Rachel share an untamed and solitary nature, and while Rachel contends with the public outrage, the political arguments and the complex demands of the regeneration project, she must also grapple with her impending motherhood and a reconciliation with her estranged family. Dealing with wildness, inheritance, hierarchies, sex and love, this is an absorbing, richly constructed novel combining political engagement and natural beauty. Read Sarah's books, and congratulate yourself on finding a particularly rare talent.

Faber have 50 copies of The Wolf Border to give to Mumsnetters: to claim your copy please fill in your details on our book of the month page. We’ll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get a Kindle edition or paperback copy here

We are delighted that Sarah will be joining us to answer your questions about The Wolf Border, her previous award-winning novels and her writing career on Wednesday 23 March, 9-10pm. Please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and meet Sarah on the night, and ask her a question or simply tell her what you thought of the book. It’ll be a fascinating chat, very much hope you can make it…

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 04-Mar-16 16:10:21

The book giveaway is now closed and copies have been set out. If you haven't been allocated a copy, we do recommend you buy a copy and join the discussion and webchat with Sarah on 23 March. It's such a brilliant book - we're all dreaming of wolves here at Mumsnet HQ!

TillyMumsnetBookClub Mon 07-Mar-16 12:13:29

I just want to add to the praise here - I've been sending it off to everyone, and recommending it left, right and centre. It is such an engrossing and memorable read. Hope you can find a copy in your local library/shop/etc, it is absolutely worth hunting down.

Kt12x Mon 07-Mar-16 14:06:38

Received my copy today, can't wait to get started on it tonight!!

Sunflower22 Fri 11-Mar-16 13:46:27

It's a great book but not quite my taste.

redalertalpha Fri 11-Mar-16 19:34:32

Can't wait to read this yet

AngelicCurls Sun 13-Mar-16 07:10:34

Wolf border is a bit of a strange one, I wasn't hooked from the start but the latter third of the book was more engrossing and the end was a surprise to me. It is very descriptively written, but I felt sometimes this is at the expense of the flow of the story, particularly at the start of the book.

I struggled to warm to any of the characters and found them a little unbelievable, almost caricatures of what they might be in order to get the nature of their character across to the reader.

The descriptions of motherhood were mostly excellent, although there were bits about the pregnancy that seemed inaccurate, talking about peridural rather than epidural and discussing a video of a c-section showing the actual surgery which seems highly unlikely. Only little things but added to the 'over the topness' I thought sometimes prevailed.

The end was a decent twist, I didn't expect it, but I did feel after the twist that the book just ended, I turned the page expecting more and there was just the acknowledgement page.

In short, an average book, the writing wasn't altogether my style and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it-sorry 😞

LocalEditorMerton Thu 17-Mar-16 18:42:57

Hi Sarah

Posting on behalf of the Mumsnet Merton & Wimbledon Book Group.

I've become fascinated by wolves since reading The Loop (Nicholas Evans) some years ago, and more recently seeing the film The Grey. What drew you to writing a novel with wolves at its heart?

And what is next in the pipeline for you?



Mitchdafish Fri 18-Mar-16 21:13:10

I have just finished this and definitely had that feeling of not wanting to book to end. Sarah I really love your writing style, I realised that I had read The Carhullan Army with my book group some years ago and we keep mentioning it as a favourite. I'd lost track of you since so this was a wonderful reintroduction.
Rachel is interesting because she seems fairly cold, although she also has strong feelings - hard to get close to her. Mind you, Lawrence felt that as her brother, didn't he?
Excellent sex scenes, really excellent! And the mothering angles... they felt very real to me.
I've not really got questions as I simply enjoyed your book, the only thing I an wondering about is how to pronounce Huib. Which might sound trivial but it's bugging the hell out of me.

RoastieToastieReastie Sun 20-Mar-16 11:37:35

Just finished this and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. From the blurb it sounded a bit take it or leave it for me so I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I love the backdrop of Cumbria and the characters were so powerfully written. Emotionally I felt just a bit far removed from the book, possibly because of Rachel's character and how she distanced herself from people. Perhaps this was deliberate of perhaps a result of having such a character who although is very emotional, tends to be cold.

The background of politics and Scotland also added an additional dimension to the book and I wondered if Sarah had any strong views either way on Scottish independence and what made her deicde to weave this to the background of her book?

blogmumjd Sun 20-Mar-16 11:48:50

I found this book wasn't for me, but willing to give another of Sarah's books a try. You can see my review on my blog here

I'm planning to come along to the webchat, but I'll post my first question for Sarah here now. How did you research for the wolf elements of the book?

jammy388 Sun 20-Mar-16 14:56:42

It was great to have the opportunity to try something I wouldn’t usually choose for myself and the subject of the book - re-wilding wolves - was unusual and interesting. I thought The Wolf Border was very well written though checking the meaning of various words did interrupt the flow of my reading somewhat. I also found the use of the present tense a little strange and the lack of speech marks was occasionally confusing.
I felt rather distanced from the main character, though I suspect this may have been deliberate to reflect her personality, but I was interested throughout to see what was going to happen next. Although I would generally prefer to be reading something more upbeat this made a satisfying change, and seeing the way Rachel’s feelings for her baby developed was touching.

eggsandham Mon 21-Mar-16 14:58:33

I absolutely loved this book. Like others, it's not one I would have naturally picked up in a bookstore but I found it fascinating and loved every minute of reading it. I've already recommended it to several others. I didn't feel that Rachel was cold at all. As a result of having a difficult childhood, she found it difficult to form bonds with people, but that was something that changed as the book progressed.

So I guess that's my question for Sarah Hall. Did you intend for her to come across as cold and emotionally disconnected, or was it the case that she was changing as the book progressed?

redalertalpha Mon 21-Mar-16 17:08:32

I found this book very addictive, and I'm not even sure why, I just felt captured by the atmosphere of the estate and all who were on it, by Rachel's own journey and the experiences of human nature it explores

pamish Mon 21-Mar-16 21:58:04

I think we need more wolves out there, at least it would sort out the grouse moors question and help stop the floods like last years' in Hebdenbridge.

The book is anchored totally to Rachel, it is all from her POV. A choice of style but she's just a bit too present for me. I wanted more wolf POV.

I like the way it dips into political processes ie how to legally set about a mad project such as the Earl has. Nice touch to make him a Liberal.

Q - where does his money come from? Inheritance wouldn't do it any more. Kept wondering if he was an arms dealer, or just a hedge fund manager.

TheCommoner Mon 21-Mar-16 22:28:25

I'm a member of Merton Local Mumsnet Book Group, and I'm really enjoying The Wolf Border. I loved The Carhullan Army, too. I haven't finished The Wolf Border, so I'm studiously avoiding other MNers' questions just in case there are spoilers.

However, my Q to Sarah is - perhaps a little niche - you refer to Huguenots in the book: are you descended from Huguenots?

I'd like to add that I love it when I catch Sarah on the radio - you are a great literary interviewee - very entertaining.

k8vincent Tue 22-Mar-16 09:40:52

I really enjoyed reading this book and found Rachel's character actually quite compelling. I didn't find her unrealistic, yes she could be described as 'cold' , but perhaps detached is better - it seemed appropriate for her role and her link to the wolves.

It was interesting seeing her try to balance her desire to keep looking after the wolves with the new experiences of motherhood.

Some of the description is really beautiful - "September's russet fading in the trees, wet, glistening light on the hills . . ."

Q. Was there a particular reason why you chose not to use speech marks in this text?

Q. What came first - Rachel's character or the wolves?

BearAusten Tue 22-Mar-16 15:04:58

I didn't find it a particularly easy novel to get into, it was a slog at times. However, it was worth persevering. There were some wonderfully descriptive and observant details, in particular about the wolves themselves. It was interesting that the Scottish Referendum was used as a background.

What was the fundamental inspiration for your novel? Wolves or Scottish Referendum or something else?

Do you agree with the reintroduction of now extinction species to the UK, such as wild boar, wolf, lynx, bear? Where do you stop?

SarahHall Tue 22-Mar-16 19:14:36


I just want to add to the praise here - I've been sending it off to everyone, and recommending it left, right and centre. It is such an engrossing and memorable read. Hope you can find a copy in your local library/shop/etc, it is absolutely worth hunting down.

Thanks to everyone at Mumsnet for inviting me to take part in the book of the month web chat tomorrow evening, and for all the kind and interesting responses to the novel so far. I'm really looking forward to it. Howl. x

RoastieToastieReastie Tue 22-Mar-16 19:51:25

<howls back>

Dunlurking Wed 23-Mar-16 12:52:46

I notice the kindle edition is 99p today. Zooming through as much as I can before tonight but I wanted to ask Sarah if she had researched farmers' attitudes to rewilding in Cumbria at all for the book?

gazzalw Wed 23-Mar-16 16:06:53

Hi Sarah

Now that you live in Norfolk, will you consider using it as a backdrop to a future novel, as you have done with Cumbria and 'The Wolf Border'? Hugely different landscapes might drive totally different types of plot?

If 'The Wolf Border' were to be made into a film who could you envisage playing Rachel?


addingtothenoise Wed 23-Mar-16 17:33:54

Hi Sarah, I really enjoyed this book, I found the ideas of the wildness in the UK versus America really fascinating...I wanted to ask you about your own experiences of wildness...Have their been any personal experiences in wild nature that shaped your writing? Do you think it's important for people to experience a sense of the wildness in nature? And do you think that's really possible without leaving the UK?


LocalEditorSutton Wed 23-Mar-16 19:48:08

Hi Sarah

What authors inspired you to become one? What are your favourite novels and why?

Thanks smile.

redalertalpha Wed 23-Mar-16 20:32:40

Hi Sarah, I really loved discovering more about wolves and rewilding after reading the book; in general wolves are portrayed as dangerous, savage creatures in popular film/fiction genres yet in this book it explored more the raw/primal aspects of human behaviour and habits which I found really gripping throughout. Do you find it challenging when you're writing characters that have a lot of complex emotional and personal issues?

Thank you

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