Sarah Moss‘ sixth novel Ghost Wall follows Seventeen-year-old Silvie who is spending the summer in an experimental archaeology camp in Northumberland with her parents. Ghost Wall is about the intoxication of power, cults and groupthink, nationalist myths, feminism and domestic violence, clever teenagers, and Northern Britain in the 90s. Sarah Moss has once again written a gripping story about who we are, with a storyline reminiscent of the best British dramas.
I have never read a novel this slender that holds inside it quite so much. Wild, calm, dark yet hopeful, a girl with a smart mouth narrates her own difficult history as well as that of Britain. A portrait of male behaviour, subtle class warfare and the solidarity of women, part thriller, part adolescent awakening, part wry elegy to the natural world, it asks what we might sacrifice in public to salve a private wound…as soon as I’d finished, the only thing I wanted was to read it again. JESSIE BURTON
Sarah will be joined by Carolyn Kirby talking about her stunning debut The Conviction of Cora Burns, a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham which questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.
Birmingham, 1885: born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her. Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?
The Conviction of Cora Burns is tense and pacey with the rare combination of driving plot as well as deep emotion. The twists and reveals are deftly handled and at one point Carolyn damn near broke my heart. The theme of nature versus nurture is often explored but is done so here with fresh energy and zeal. DARCY NICHOLSON, Daniel Goldsmith First Novel Prize judge