‘A Line Made by Walking’ by Sara Baume – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

25-year-old Frankie is living in Dublin and working part-time in a public gallery. But increasingly anxious, she abruptly quits her bedsit to live in her deceased grandmother’s creaking house in rural Ireland, close to her family. With an artist’s gift for observation, Frankie recounts the beauty and the obliteration of the world as the seasons change around her, from roadkill to kitchen curios, all the while struggling to understand her place in it.

This tour-de-force follow-up to Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a celebration of the extraordinary in the everyday, and Baume’s prose elevates the ordinary and finds inspiration in the strange.

My Review

note: read and reviewed in March 2017

When I read Sara Baume’s first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, last year I was mesmerised by it.
Completely taken in by the beauty of the story and it became one of my favourite books of the year.

This spring (2017) has brought the release of her second novel, ‘A Line Made by Walking’. And I am yet again utterly mesmerised by its haunting beauty. The honesty of the story. The lyrical quality of the prose.

I am less fearful of being alone than I am of not being able to be alone

It’s a very quiet read and is more a character study than a plot driven novel. It focuses on Frankie, a woman in her mid twenties, who flees from her life in the city to take shelter in her deceased grandmother’s house in the Irish countryside. Frankie is very much the disaffected millennial. Awkward in the company of others and unable to come to terms with this adult version of her. The study shows her struggles with depression, with identity and with the basic functions of living and breathing in our ever more demanding and material driven world.

People don’t like it when you say real things

What makes this novel so memorable is the honesty of the words. Frankie is cut open and her blood spilled across these pages for us to see and read. Her soul is laid bare and for me, this became an exceptionally intimate reading experience. Reading to yourself is a unique experience. No two people will ever read a book the same way, or will even infer all the same meaning as the author poured into their work. That’s why it’s incredibly hard for me to express my emotions about this book. I feel that in revealing my love for this book I reveal too much of my self. That very private and personal kernel that is me. Because this book has touched that very quiet part of my soul. It took me the best part of three weeks to read. I couldn’t read faster. I just physically couldn’t. The book seemed to demand too much of my soul that I could only read in short sittings. But each sitting was a perfect moment in time. In fact, I recommend savouring a book such as this instead of racing through it. As you could expect from this book it does not necessarily end but continues with the journey of life. It is one of the most poetic character studies I have ever had the privilege to read.

I can’t recommend this more highly to anyone who likes literary fiction and to anyone interested in reading something true about modern Ireland. It is also a book that would be very appealing to anyone with an interest in all aspects of art as the character of Frankie is an artist and views the world with artist’s eyes. During each chapter of the book a photo is shared representing Frankie’s current art project that looks at the continuous cycle of life and death and how life is never truly understood until after death. These photos are of found deceased wild animals (robin, fox, hare etc.) but they are not shared in some sort of grotesque fashion if that is something that would worry you. I am particularly squeamish and had no such issues. Instead they added another layer to this book that made it truly feel like its own art installation.

I think: art is everywhere. I think: art is every inexplicable thing.

In Sara Baume I have found a new favourite author. And what makes this so exceptional is that she is Irish (technically born in the UK to one Irish parent and one British one but has lived in Co. Cork since early childhood). I always tend to be harsher in my criticisms of Irish authored and Irish set works.

So I really never thought this day would come…

An Irish novel getting five stars!

But here it is…

five stars

I had initially borrowed this from the library but due to the beauty of the cover, my falling for the story and my desire to support Irish publishing I bought a Tramp Press first edition to add to my collection.
And it looks utterly beautiful sitting in my bookcase.

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16 thoughts on “‘A Line Made by Walking’ by Sara Baume – Book Review

  1. Thank you for sharing this review. Books have a special power don’t they? To speak to the part of ourselves we didn’t know we had. That part of ourselves that we often ignore. Books have a way of getting to and speaking truth over us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you’ve finally achieved the elusive 5-star rating for an Irish book and go-to author. Literary fiction is not a genre I read very often but this book sounds deeply moving. I haven’t found my version of A Line Made by Walking yet (one that echoes my own thoughts and emotions) but I hope to find it one day soon! It sounds like a joyous experience worth savouring! 💙 Jen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You say the sweetest things to me *gets emotional* <3333
      This book though Amanda… THIS DAMN BOOK!!!! I can barely even talk about it. It just feels like the author dipped her pen in the ink of my soul and wrote out my thoughts and feelings.

      Like

  3. “Frankie is cut open and her blood spilled across these pages for us to see and read.” GOSH, THIS REVIEW! 🤩🤩😍😍 it’s simply stunning! 😍😍 You have given this post such a lyrical quality with the coherence of your thoughts and the depths of your feelings for the author and the book that I JUST CAN’T HELP BUT BE CONVINCED THAT THIS IS THE NOVEL I NEED IN MY LIFE NOW! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ SOO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS REVIEW, Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh this book Rain… It just feels like it’s my book. As if it’s my story if you get me Just felt like my soul had been carved into words for all the world to read!!! It’s so rare to find a book that connects with us on a deeply spiritual level and that’s what this book is for me. I sometimes just pick it up and hold it to my beating heart and I get this sense of calm… I know that probably sounds crazy but when the author just manages to create a character as emotionally visceral as Frankie I think it’s impossible to not be deeply moved. I worship this book. WORSHIP!!! And I only hope that you can love it as much as I do <333333

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, hon, I TOTALLLYY GET IT! And with such books, it feels…SOMETIMES I DONT EVEN WANT TO SHARE THEM WITH ANYONE BECAUSE THEN IT WILL STOP BEING “my book” right!?!?

        FAAAAR from sounding crazy, YOU ACTUALLY SPOKE TO MY HEART BECAUSE I FEEEL THE SAMEEE WAYYY! And now I HAVE TO READ THIS ONE!!! 😍😍❤️❤️❤️❤️😱😱😱😱

        Liked by 1 person

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