Book Review : The Fell

Sarah Moss is a genius of our time. And it is going to take a brave person to convince me other wise.

I have made no secret of my admiration of her writing and when Camilla Elworthy very kindly sent me a copy of The Fell, due for publication by Picador on 11th November, I genuinely felt like I had won the lottery.

Set in the latter part of 2020 when the whole country was right in the heart of the COVID 19 pandemic, this is the story of one day. The story of the kind of day that so many of us have experienced over the past two years but never ever dreamed we would. With her own tight, precise and undaunted prose Sarah Moss unfolds the story of Kate , her son Matt and elderly and shielding neighbour Alice.

Kate should be self isolating but Kate is desperate. A single mum just about scraping by, being outside is her only escape. So she decides to take an early evening walk on the fell. She slips out, believing herself unseen, believing she won’t be long.

Her teenage son Matt is left behind, aware his Mum shouldn’t be out. Also aware she has been gone too long. Caught between fear of leaving the house and fear of what has happened to his Mum Matt turns to Alice for help.

What unfold over the next few hours is a masterclass in conveying human emotion, in representing the effects of imposed solitude and consequences of decisions hastily made. It is the usual quiet but impeccable writing of Sarah Moss which gets right to the heart of where each of us have been. The sort of writing that holds you still for a moment and touches something real within. Moving between perspectives; from Kate on the hillside, Matt and Alice both waiting alone at home and the Mountain Rescue Team who are searching, this is some of the most insightful, truthful writing I have read this year.

Sarah Moss takes the every day lived experiences and makes them extraordinary. Her sentences resonate with emotion and dark simplicity. Nothing is over complicated, everything is honest, everything rings true.

The Fell is simply breathtaking. It deserves all the praise, all the awards. Prepare yourselves because there is some very special coming your way.

Rachel x

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