Rachel misses the funeral. She does not send a wreath. She does not supply words of remembrance for the service … Would Binny care if she attended? She would not. She tells herself this, pours a drink, opens the cabin window, and leaves it wide until the cold is unbearable.
Rachel is a wonderfully complex character, independent, married to her work. A proper heroine, fully embodied and attuned to the changes both within and outside herself, such as here on her return to Cumbria and discovering she’s pregnant (p85):
Buds and blossom; there’s a sweet, spermy fragrance in the air, a scent both exquisite and intolerable. The last few weeks she’s noticed a strange sensitivity to such things, aversions, smells that are nausea-inducing. For all that the business of pregnancy is interruptive and alarming, she cannot deny it has its interesting frontiers.
The Wolf Border is a gorgeous novel, about sex, class and old-fashioned sexism; the impact of a chaotic childhood (and plaudits to Sarah Hall for taking psychological advice on this); the prospect of Scottish independence; and the harsh realities of land management the townies, with their idealised notions of the countryside, don’t understand. It’s about the compromise between freedom and comfort, the border between civilisation and the wild. While Rachel’s story doesn’t have a great deal of jeopardy until the helicopter-chase finale, I loved it; thank you Faber and Faber for my advance copy.
Her cheeks were a hodgepodge of colour when he left, slamming the door behind him. Mascara washing into blusher, rainbow shadows streaking from around her eyes. It reminded him of mixing paints as a kid: the power to reduce sky and sun to mud.
Now, under heavy clouds, with the snow recently melted, the moors are likewise conquered: grass leached of green, shrubs stripped of leaves, the heart sucked out of the bracken. He leaves the paths to the Sunday walkers with their Gore-Tex smiles and stumps across the peat to lose himself in a muted landscape of brown.
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