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Ghost Wall

Narrated by: Christine Hewitt
Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019

A story at once mythic and strikingly timely, Sarah Moss's Ghost Wall urges us to wonder how far we have come from the 'primitive minds' of our ancestors.  

Teenage Silvie is living in a remote Northumberland camp as an exercise in experimental archaeology. Her father is an abusive man, obsessed with recreating the discomfort, brutality and harshness of Iron Age life.  

Behind and ahead of Silvie's narrative is the story of a bog girl, a sacrifice, a woman killed by those closest to her, and as the hot summer builds to a terrifying climax, Silvie and the Bog girl are in ever more terrifying proximity.

©2012 Sam Millar (P)2018 Bolinda

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  • janien
  • 10-11-2018

Could not put this one down!

A father obsessed with experiencing life as he perceives it should be; as our ancient ancestors lived. Insists his family embrace his perfect holiday with him, in an Iron Age archaeological camp. Reminded me of Kingsolvers excellent The Poisonwood Bible, Sarah Moss packs a hard hitting life was not a bed of roses back then punch with this short yet excellent novel. Funny at times with the illicit trips to Spar for chocolate however the novel doesnt hold back from its serious menacing undertones and bigotry. Not even four hours long so a more expensive credit read but so what! Its a good one!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Caroline Lawrence
  • 22-10-2018

Unputdownable!

Unputdownable... if you know what I mean. I loved every minute of this fast-paced and beautifully written account of experimental Iron Age archaeology gone awry.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 12-07-2019

3 hours of brilliance!

This is a slim novel and a brief 3 hour download, but apart from getting fewer hours listening for your download credit, this is superb. I reviewed Sarah Moss's Tidal Zone and Signs for Lost Children on my Audible Listening Page on 28/8/16 and 15/8/16 iwhere I said Moss 'is achieving acclaim fast'. She still is but deserves more mainstream attention. This is her 5th novel and is as powerful, delicately written and unforgettable as her previous work.

This one is set in Northumberland where Silvie is part of a small part of iron age reiinactors spending time in their iron age camp. The group includes Silvie's downtrodden mother, a few students and a fanatical professor all keen to create an iron age way of life foraging for roots and nuts, fondly imagining that they can create a totally authentic experience of the past. The most sinister member of the group is Silvie's father Bill who has taken time off from his bus driving to take part in this activity with which he is obsessed to the point of insanity. One of the students, Molly from England's comparative soft south, befriends Silvie. Part of the themes of the book is the North South divide expressed through Silvie and Molly, beautifully presented by the skillful narrator who conveys the chasm through accent without a trace of caricature, helped by Moss's use of northern words (clarty / keks) and syntax deftly woven into the narrative.

The core of the novel gathers pace as hints are to be gleaned about the relationships within Sivie's family, hints which are picked up by the more worldly Silvie ( who slips off to Spar to buy icecreams and biscuits which Sylvie doesn't dare to do). The buildup to the climax is frightening and the ending is almost explosive. But even the ending is not the end: the very last few moments leave you on yet another level of perception.

The whole is beautifully read and written with a rare awareness of the suggestions and economy of words.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Author's Defence
  • 20-06-2019

Compelling

The narrator suits the text perfectly. The book is so well written can be listened to in one sitting. A dark and troubling subject matter expertly executed.

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  • bookylady
  • 13-03-2019

A wonderful read. Tense, dark and shocking.

I listened to this in two long sessions and found it addictive, mainly because the quality of the writing and narration were so good that I just could not press the stop button.

Sarah Moss writes exquisitely and in this short novella she has created yet another believable world where humanity's fault lines are ruthlessly exposed.

Silvie, the teenage daughter of a self-taught expert on Iron Age survival skills, accompanies her parents on a summer trip to a remote camp in Northumberland where an experimental archaeological project is taking place. We soon discover that Silvie's father is a brutish, bigoted, misogynistic, racist man who bullies his wife and daughter and physically abuses both of them. Both women will say and do anything for a quiet life but they still bear the marks of his violence.

During the camp it becomes evident that Silvie's father is determined to impose the harsh reality of hunter-gatherer Iron Age life on his family and the female students working on the project; he demands subservience from the women whilst the men enjoy an easier existence and are in charge. Silvie, who is named after an Ancient British goddess, is befriended by one of the students, Molly, who soon begins to question the motives and actions of the bullying father.

Tensions rise between Molly and Silvie's father and when Molly discovers that he and the Professor leading the project plan to subject Silvie to a re-enactment of a ritual sacrifice conducted by ancient Bog People, she intervenes to save her friend from the mens' ambitions and delusions.

A thought-provoking exploration of domestic abuse, family life and friendship set against an examination of the lives of ancient Britons.

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  • Angela O'Brien
  • 21-09-2018

Teen Fiction ?

Somehow slightly naive, rather predictable. Maybe works as teen
fiction. It was not as interesting as I had anticipated.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful