Frankie is falling. Slowly, her world is being leeched of colour, dried and crisped as fallen leaves. The effort of trying not to cry and fold up within herself is becoming suffocating. An uninspired artist drowning in the hubbub of Dublin, Frankie reaches out to her saviour; her mother. Returning to her childhood home, in seek of comfort or understanding, of meaning or routine, Frankie finds none. In a nostalgic bid to rediscover herself, and her art, she relocates to her grandmother’s bungalow, empty now and reluctant to find a new owner following the death of its last occupant.
Among dusty knickknacks and fading memories, Frankie fights to stop herself being weighed down by a whirlpool of despair; she attempts to rebel against indifference. All the while, she embraces her own otherness or lack thereof, fuelled by longings and memories past. She knows that she is on a path to a conclusion – an end – yet what form this will take remains to be seen.
Dealing with depression, memory and one’s reason for being, it seems strange that such weighty topics can provide for such beautiful imagery, yet such is Sara Baume’s skill. She’s a magician.
Baume’s works require much contemplation. Carefully arranged and powerfully hypnotic, she moulds words into what can only be seen as timeless art. There is no singular aspect which makes A Line Made by Walking a masterpiece (for that it is), it is a puzzle of smoothly interlocking pieces which reveal a stunning image. I pity the reader who does not read this book.
Such was my love for this book (true fan girling, no doubt) that I re-read the last chapter, desperate to wring out every last drop of literary goodness, to keep the story with me. And I realised that you could re-read this book many times and each time find something new; something hidden beneath the lines that march across the pages. The story evolves with the reader, revealing itself delicately yet forcefully. If that isn’t great literature, then I don’t know what is.
A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume is published by William Heinemann London, an imprint of Penguin Random House.