A suffocating father-daughter relationship: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

91sas4QxI9L.jpgIf there was a contest of writing, that will require telling a story using the least amount of words, this book would win it this year.

A borderline novella, Ghost Wall is a powerful story that could easily be read in one sitting.

I loved the idea behind this novel. The sacrificed bog girls, whose remains found, as characters they are quiet and unknown, as if they never existed but the proof of them being very much alive is there, in contrast with today’s abused women in hands of bad-seed men.

Silvie, short for Sulevia, a Celtic goddess, is living a hard life with her “almost not there” mother and abusive father. This father of Silvie’s is a terror. He crushes both the mum and daughter both physically and psychologically.

The family is involved in an expedition-like setting, in Northumberland , vast moors, where there is a professor and some students investigating the lives of ancient Britons by replicating the same style of living.  Silvie’s father, Bill, is helping the professor who is seemingly closing an eye on the ways Bill manipulates and uses his family. Bill is obsessed with ‘ancient times’ and mimicking the same style of living.

It is not a long story, and I don’t want to go on talking about the plot. The story is very powerful and dense. There were bits turned my stomach, and other bits where I felt ashamed/stressed reading on Silvie’s behalf. It is a dark and depressing novel, but very well put together.

I absolutely loved the portrayal of the suffocating father-daughter relationship. Bill is sexist, racist, unlovable, punchable in the face. The mother is not really opened up. She is more like an accessory.

Two things I didn’t like about this novel:

1- The narration style. I am not sure if someone went out and about this year to young writers, and recommended them to write in a dreamy, first-person voice with long sentences that’s shy to include punctuation to get long listed to awards? Why the sudden explosion of this style of writing? I am not a fan.

2- The ending. It felt a bit hasty. The start was intriguing, but find the ending the weakest point of the book.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a really good book. When a book is good, you can’t help thinking it could have been better. 4 stars and will definitely be reading Moss again.



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