The Fell by Sarah Moss

Published: 2021 1. First lines 2. Cover: Pan Macmillan 3. Woman looking out the window [Public Domain] via Pixnio

Set during the 2020 COVID pandemic in England, Kate is in lockdown at her home in the Peak District, England. She is yearning to go out for a quick walk, and without telling her teenage son Matt who is also at home, she heads out with only a backpack – no phone. After some time, when Matt realizes his mother is not at home, he begins to worry. Unbeknownst to him, she has fallen and hurt herself, and needs rescuing.

Life, then, to be lived, somehow 

The Guardian commented that this is “a very funny book. All of the characters share a certain doomy drollness, with Alice musing on how there’s nothing quite like cooking to put you off your dinner, for instance”. Even though there are snatches of humour in the dialogue, this book overall is far from a funny book. I found it to be a very insightful portrayal of aspects of the pandemic.


Kate is out and moving, going somewhere, the hill rising under her feet and the sky ahead of her. Wind in the trees and her body working at last, climbing, muscle and bone doing what they’re made for. She won’t be long, really she won’t, only a sip of outside, fast up the lane and over the fields, just a little way up the stone path for a quick greeting to the fells.

“How is anyone going to get sick from walking a few miles over the moor and standing on a hillside in the wind?” she wonders, before remembering that “police were hunting people off the hills with drones a few months ago, recording footage to post on social media to ‘shame’ people who had gone for a walk, playing loud accusations at them from the sky.”

How much is the fine, anyway, though however much it is she can’t afford it and she’d rather have an untreated fracture than risk prison, even more stupid to end up in prison because you couldn’t bear being locked up at home than to go get yourself into trouble on the fells when you should know better.

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