British novelist Moss, author of Summerwater, returns with a pandemic novel that runs through the course of one day during Britain's lockdown. Single mother Kate, who has Covid, is required to quarantine but decides to go for a secret hike through the local moor. But when she falls and injures her leg, and no one knows where she is, Kate find herself in danger.
Her style is concise. The Fell, like its two predecessors, is elegantly brief ... The novel slips gracefully between Kate’s perspective on the fell, her teenage son Matt’s increasing anxiety as he waits for her at home, their neighbour Alice, and Rob, a member of the mountain rescue team. The greater tension here comes from the question of Kate’s survival—Moss can create drama from the effort to eat a fig roll—but all four characters reveal their own night thoughts as they worry in their various ways about Kate ... The astonishing thing is that Moss can write so compassionately about human frailty while her own work is as close to perfect as a novelist’s can be.
... absorbing ... The extended passage of stream-of-consciousness internal monologue...is subtly, ingeniously done ... there's a relentless, intoxicating flow to much of the writing, with ideas constantly spawning new ideas in a process of perpetual intellectual motion. That said, the writing still feels precision-tooled, the words carefully-chosen and the details equally carefully thought-through ... If and when the dust finally settles on the covid era, a handful of the many books it has inspired will eventually solidify into a sort of pandemic canon. It's perhaps not the kind of accolade that authors dream of, but this humane, thoughtful reflection on the experience of the last 18 months surely merits a place on any such list.
With Moss’s trademark attention to both the beauty and danger of the natural world, the moors come alive as almost another character ... Covering only a few hours, The Fell conveys not only Kate’s and Matt’s fears but the particular anxieties of the time: the precautions about touching surfaces, the financial stress of furlough, and the dread of denunciation by neighbours ... The book also captures what was lost—from missed celebrations to more everyday delights ... The Fell is a slim book covering a lot of ground. In unfussy prose, Moss seamlessly blends quotidian concerns ... For Moss, the idea of control over one’s life is itself a sign of privilege.