Seven Steeples

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2022. 192p. ISBN 9780358629238. $26.99. F
Shortly after they meet and recognize they are kindred spirits who crave solitude, Bell (Isabel) and Sigh (Simon) decide they have had enough of waitressing, factory work, and yes, even their families and friends. Taking a chance on a life alone together, they rent a lichen-encrusted cottage in a remote part of Ireland at the foot of a mountain they promise themselves they will someday climb. Together with their two dogs, they set up housekeeping with discards from the very people with whom they’ve cut ties and begin a new minimalist life with few modern distractions. Every aspect of the flora and fauna they observe on their daily walks is described in language so mesmerizing that even a bird poo stain on laundry becomes a work of art. As the years pass, their comical neglect of the most basic details of daily living binds these two sweet misanthropes ever closer together.
VERDICT Award-winning novelist Baume’s gifts as a visual artist can be seen not only in the poetry of her majestic words but also in her creative use of spacing that enhances this lovely novel that is made for this time in history of pandemic-triggered isolation.
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