The Fell by Sarah Moss

It is my belief that Sarah Moss is the undisputed queen of taking everyday stories that seem ordinary at first glance, and stuffing them full of delicious, near unbearable tension. The Fell does not disappoint on this front; I closed the cover on the last page with shoulders like concrete.

Set during the early months of the pandemic and ensuing global lockdowns, The Fell focuses on the lives and inner thoughts of a cast of characters in a small English village: Kate and her teenage son Matt; their neighbour Alice; and Rob, a single parent charged with Kate’s rescue. Alice is a widowed cancer survivor, reliant on her neighbours Kate and Matt for grocery deliveries during lockdown, until they are deemed close contacts and need to self-isolate. Used to being able to wander the moors and mountain behind her home, Kate finds isolation far too much for her mental state and risks a chance trip onto the moors, resulting in a less-than-ideal situation for all involved.

Moss’ ability to capture the moment-by-moment minutiae of a middle-class life in lockdown is breathtaking. Her great skill lies in making the reader feel as though they are a voyeur of the scene she has created, that we are there with the characters, included yet unobtrusive.

Much like her previous novel Summerwater, The Fell is also intimately concerned with social class, the inexorable effects of capitalism on our society, and climate change. Moss offers much to ponder with this novel, while ultimately gifting the reader with a sense of relief that there are others in the world who have thought and felt the very same things we have during this strange time in history.

Tye Cattanach is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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The Fell

The Fell

Sarah Moss

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