Five words from the blurb: Lake District, wolves, eccentric, project, family
Haweswater is one of my favourite books so I was looking forward to reading this one. Sarah Hall perfectly captures the atmosphere of the Lake District and this book is no exception – the beauty of the hills and lakes shines through. Unfortunately other details of this book failed to engage me.
The Wolf Border is set in the fictional valley of Annerdale, where an eccentric Earl is plotting to reintroduce the wolf. Rachel Caine has been tracking wolves in Idaho for many years, but is lured back to the Lake District to run the project.
My main problem with the book was that it appeared to have a feminist agenda. The male characters were all weak, invisible, or poorly rendered. I became frustrated by the lack of balance – not all men are stupid, bumbling idiots and not all women are amazing, talented individuals. There needed to be some blurring of these lines as it didn’t feel realistic.
The book also followed a fictional version of the Scottish Independence referendum. I wasn’t sure whether it was a re-imagining of last year’s referendum (in which case it made the book feel dated) or a possible future one (which didn’t feel right as there was no reference to the last one) but either way it didn’t sit well with the rest of the plot and I was unsure as to why it was included.
On a positive note, the writing was fantastic and I admired many individual passages. The wolves were well researched and the book raised interesting questions about whether they could ever be released in the UK. The problem was that the wolves didn’t have a high enough priority. Their story-line seemed to become sidetracked, just when it was getting interesting. The book tried to deal with too many different issues and I think it would have benefited from focusing on the natural world instead of Rachel and her frustrating family.
He takes a fleece hat out of the rucksack and she puts it on. They continue upward, into the cold, fast-moving currents. The effort is double, with the wind hoving against them. The latter part of the route is incredibly difficult, almost beyond her limit. Rachel’s legs shake; the undersides of her toes burn. The dense sedge grass vibrates all around and blurs her vision. There are no birds, just the occasional ravaged-looking sheep, bleating uselessly in the wind. They push on over the false brow.
Overall The Wolf Border was too fragmented. There were many wonderful sections, but the plot failed to come together as a whole. Go and get a copy of Haweswater instead.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
I’ll be on my soapbox if it isn’t on the Man Booker Prize longlist in the summer. The Writes of Woman
Good start but disappointing in the latter sections, perhaps even preposterous. Alan on Good Reads
Extraordinary writing and clever storytelling make this undoubtedly a novel that will appear on my best of the year list. Shiny New Books