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    The futility of walls

    At a camp in a Northumberland woodland 3 men are making a wall, recreating a woven wall lined with ancestors' skulls put up by ancient Britons to ward off advancing Romans. As night draws in they get ready - a pile of stones, a handwoven rope, sharp flints, skin drums. Part of a group trying to replicate ancient life patterns, a teenaged girl tells the story. Her father has been invited as a self-taught expert to help the Prof and a handful of uni students. By day a bus-driver, by night an obsessive brute who dominates his helpless wife and fearful daughter, it's his rage and resentment that propel this grim tale to its inevitable climax. A short, tense and deeply unsettling book, it touches on some deep-seated issues: the hostile nativism that has brought Britain to Brexit and its own wall, the alarming ease with which apparently civilized men can slip into dominating and controlling women. Beautifully written, bringing the natural world vividly to life, it is still a confronting piece of work.

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