Tracey Thorn on A Line Made by Walking
In Sara Baume’s A Line Made by Walking, a young artist struggling with depression leaves the city and moves into a rural bungalow, the empty home of her dead grandmother, where, immersed in nature, she takes photographs of the dead creatures she finds in the surrounding fields. These very photos then appear throughout the novel, punctuating the text, in a way that serves to blur the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. Frankie, the narrator, experiences and records the natural world in unstinting detail, turning aside from it repeatedly to make equally detailed notes on the artworks which she has studied and which inspire her. Testing herself. Stuck in a rut but looking for a way out. There is an obsessive quality to all this, in a novel which picks apart strands of loneliness, art, misery and family, trying to work out where we fit in the world, and what sadness means, and what on earth might help.
Sara Baume, A Line Made by Walking
Struggling to cope with urban life – and with life in general – Frankie, a twenty-something artist, retreats to the rural bungalow on ‘turbine hill’ that has been vacant since her grandmother’s death three years earlier. It is in this space, surrounded by nature, that she hopes to regain her footing in art and life. She spends her days pretending to read, half-listening to the radio, failing to muster the energy needed to leave the safety of her haven. Her family come and go, until they don’t and she is left alone to contemplate the path that led her here, and the smell of the carpet that started it all.
Finding little comfort in human interaction, Frankie turns her camera lens on the natural world and its reassuring cycle of life and death. What emerges is a profound meditation on the interconnectedness of wilderness, art and individual experience, and a powerful exploration of human frailty.
About the author
Sara Baume was born in Lancashire and grew up in County Cork, Ireland. She studied fine art and creative writing and her fiction and criticism have been published in anthologies, newspapers and journals such as the Irish Times, the Guardian, the Stinging Fly and Granta magazine. She has won the Davy Byrne’s Short Story Award, the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, the Rooney Prize for Literature, an Irish Book Award for Best Newcomer and the Kate O’Brien Award. Her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Warwick Prize for Writing and the Desmond Elliott Prize, and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. A Line Made by Walking is her second novel. She lives in West Cork.