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Moorefield House Publishing



A Line Made by Walking Reviewed by Jacob Hammer

Posted on August 28, 2017 at 8:05 AM

A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume

Reviewed by Jacob Hammer

Sara Baume presents in her second novel a book that gives its readers a personal look

deep into its narrator’s life. This, on its own, would not distinguish it from any number of

novels out there on the shelf. What Baume does that sets this novel apart is to give us this

perspective while weaving in multiple back stories seamlessly and providing us with a wealth

of art knowledge.

The novel begins with the narrator musing on her Grandmother’s death and the more

recent death of a robin. She has moved into her Grandmother’s cottage after a near

breakdown in her flat in Dublin and is full of all sorts of emotional turmoil and self-doubt.

The cottage provides shelter from some of those stresses. The dead robin is the first in an

emerging series of photographs that she is taking of dead things. Each one of these ten

animals that she finds in the countryside and garden surrounding the cottage is an opening

through which the narrator explores herself. Sometimes the animal will make her reflect on

her early childhood or on more recent events. Further paths down memory lane are cleared

via various items of her Grandmother’s that remain in the house after the rest of the family

has gone through to get the things they find precious or useful. From these we begin to create

an image of Frankie’s past and how she ended up at her Grandmother’s cottage cutting

herself off from the world and taking pictures of dead things by the side of the road. With her

we begin to see the fog of the recent past clearing and a way onward emerge.

One thing that made this book really striking was Frankie’s constant references to art.

She is an artist and studied art in university so as she ponders things over she tests herself on

works of art relating to whatever it is she is thinking about at that moment. These pop up

throughout the book. And allow for even more insight into how she is feeling or what she is

thinking based in her interpretation of the work and the works that she chooses to mention.

On top of that, the author includes a detailed list at the back of the book that lists every art

piece mentioned by chapter to encourage further investigation by the reader.

Another striking feature in the novel is its unconventional pacing. As one moves

along through the novel there are frequent pauses indicated by extra space. This indicated a

passage of time that can sometimes be very brief or sometimes signal that a memory

sequence is starting. The space created and the anticipation of a shift ahead help the reader to

reflect on what they have just read and hold it in their mind almost like the photographs that

Frankie takes or the works of art that she mentions. We hold each moment separate, but are

also reminded by those parts of the mind trying to align things linearly that there are multiple

stories all being told at once to create this whole.

I enjoyed this book because it made me think about the how we hold memories and

how they are cued by the things around us in a constant stream. I enjoyed it because of the

intriguing art references that enticed me to learn more. Most importantly, I enjoyed this book

because I wanted to know more about Frankie. I wanted to learn how she would emerge from

the funk that she was under and to know how she came to be an artist questioning her ability

living in her Grandmother’s former cottage and passing the days riding a bicycle through the

Irish countryside and taking photographs of dead animals. A great read and something I

would happily recommend.

Categories: None

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