“Seven Steeples” by Sara Baume is the November 2022 selection for the IrishCentral Book Club.
Each month, we will pick a new Irish book or a great book by an Irish author and celebrate the amazing ability of the Irish to tell a good story for the IrishCentral Book Club.
Throughout November, we’ll be reading award-winning author Sara Baume's “Seven Steeples,” which was published earlier this year and has been shortlisted in the Novel of the Year category for the 2022 An Post Irish Book Awards.
You can read a sample of "Seven Steeples" here.
Synopsis of “Seven Steeples” by Sara Baume
A stunning, powerful novel about a couple that pushes against traditional expectations, moving with their dogs to the Irish countryside where they embed themselves in nature and make attempts to disappear from society.
It is the winter following the summer they met. A couple, Bell and Sigh, move into a remote house in the Irish countryside with their dogs. Both solitary with misanthropic tendencies, they leave the conventional lives stretched out before them to build another—one embedded in ritual, and away from the friends and family from whom they’ve drifted.
They arrive at their new home on a clear January day and look up to appraise the view. A mountain gently and unspectacularly ascends from the Atlantic, “as if it had accumulated stature over centuries. As if, over centuries, it had steadily flattened itself upwards.” They make a promise to climb the mountain, but—over the course of the next seven years—it remains unclimbed. We move through the seasons with Bell and Sigh as they come to understand more about the small world around them, and as their interest in the wider world recedes.
"Seven Steeples" is a beautiful and profound meditation on the nature of love and the resilience of nature. Through Bell and Sigh, and the life they create for themselves, Sara Baume explores what it means to escape the traditional paths laid out before us—and what it means to evolve in devotion to another person, and to the landscape.
Reviews for “Seven Steeples” by Sara Baume
“Seven Steeples is one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read….Baume’s descriptions of landscape are lovelier than I can express; you simply have to read them yourself.” — New York Times Book Review
“Haunting and dreamlike and wonderful to read…[Seven Steeples] powerfully recalls the middle act of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, that heart-stoppingly moving depiction of time passing through an empty house, of loss accumulating. Baume offers up an astonishing prose poem that keeps close religiously and lovingly to the physical throughout.” — The Guardian
“With calm scrutiny and a vividly beautiful poetic touch…[Sara Baume] succeeds wonderfully.” — Wall Street Journal
“In its unique evocation of human and natural life, Seven Steeples somehow captures the strangeness of being alive in this world at this time. Among those rare books that makes you feel that you’re seeing everything through new eyes.” — Doireann Ní Ghríofa, author of "A Ghost in the Throat"
“[Baume] takes the everyday and makes it sing. She takes our normal lives and makes them glisten…Seven Steeples is about what it means to tread gently; with intention; on equal footing with every creature we share our days with. The writing is unsettling good; the attention to detail is like no other.” — Kerri ní Dochartaigh, author of "Thin Places"
About Sara Baume
Sara Baume studied fine art before earning a master’s in creative writing. Her first novel, "Spill Simmer Falter Wither," won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. She is also the recipient of the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award and the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award. Baume lives in Cork, Ireland.
Synopsis, reviews, and biographical information provided by HarperCollins Publishers.