Escape to the country: A Line Made By Walking by Sara Baume
A Line Made By Walking is about Frankie, a twenty five year old artist who moves from Dublin into her grandmother’s old bungalow in the countryside near her parents’ house, and what she does in this retreat from the world. Written in a relatable, immediate style, Baume’s novel is about loss, of self, of how you thought the world was, and of the grandmother whose home she stays in and the dead animals that she finds and photographs. It is about being in your twenties and feeling lost.
Frankie’s photographing of dead animals and her attempts to test her art knowledge through finding works that fit the theme of whatever she is thinking about strike a chord for anyone whose creativity or knowledge seem to be unable to find an outlet or are languishing away whilst their owner is unsure of life. The book is full of knowledge, about artwork, nature, and other things, and how knowing things cannot help against difficulties of life, loneliness, and depression. Details in the book, from Frankie’s description of getting caught obsessively smelling her old carpet to a reference to The Land Before Time to describe a leaf, help to make it a vivid and moving account of a relatable subject, feeling lost and alone in the world.
Comparisons to Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City feel inevitable, with art and loneliness deeply intertwined in both, but in Baume’s novel art does not seem to offer the same comparison or comfort that loneliness is not new, but rather a frame of reference for Frankie to try and cling to and use to create order. A Line Made By Walking is full of quotable lines about being in your twenties, being sad, and finding the world an overwhelming place, and it is a book to be savoured whether you are experiencing that right now or have done so in the past.