Brief Thoughts: The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

  • The publisher’s description misleads, making no mention of Rachel’s pregnancy or brother, disregarding the family dynamics that make up the bulk of the plot. (The description does mention a mother, but she is removed from the story early on.) This tales is less about wolves and more about family. I wanted to read the story described on the back, but it’s not really the story you’ll find here. If you’re looking for a book about family relationships and repairing mends, though, you might enjoy this one. 
  • The ‘wolf border’ is, I think, just a subplot – one which Rachel actually has little to do with. Obviously, the wolf project affects her daily life, but the plot that winds through the story is little impacted by her. 
  • Rachel is very self-absorbed (which isn’t quite the right word, but it’s close enough). She doesn’t ever really get to know others (the Penningtons, Michael, Huib, barely even Lawrence) and makes assumptions about their behaviour or situations based on very little. The other characters consequently seem to have very little depth, even though one can imagine to be far more interesting people than Rachel encounters.
  • I hope I’m not disparaging Rachel too much. I found her relatable, if a little dull in her moments of inaction. 
    • I appreciated her character growth, which especially shows in her relationship with Lawrence.
  • The story proceeds very slowly with little action. The wolf plot picks up in the last 75 pages or so. I found myself tensing up when the story finally reached the point of something happening. I was invested by then.
  • This book doesn’t use quotation marks. I know that puts some people off… I like the dreamy distance (or closeness?) atmosphere that a lack of punctuation seems to give me. I also liked Hall’s prose, which created a great visual for the estate and the English countryside.
  • These next points contain SPOILERS re: the conclusion .
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    • I felt extremely pissed at Thomas, just as Rachel does – not because he necessarily did a bad thing, but because he went about it so sneakily and high-and-mightily. I couldn’t believe that was actually his endgame. There’s a good example of an eccentric person.
    • The reader doesn’t receive any closure with Rachel’s decision to tell Kyle about their son. I was frustrated by that, even though I felt it was going to be that kind of book, that ends just before you find out what happens. But, what’s the point of having Rachel occasionally hem and haw about telling Kyle (it’s really just a few moments where she thinks about it), and then finish with her heading to America to tell him…while not totally resolving that thread? I dunno, I suppose the point is more than Rachel made the decision than the outcome of that decision. But I like my plot threads to be neatly finished in these kind of stories.