Seven Steeples: A Novel (Paperback)
One of Wall Street Journal's 10 Best Books of the Year • Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize • Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize • An Irish Times Best Book of the Year
“One of the most beautiful novels I have ever read.” —New York Times Book Review
The acclaimed novel about a couple who, pushing against traditional expectations, move 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.
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 short-listed 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, and lives in Cork, Ireland.
“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
"Exquisitely detailed...one of the brilliant particularities of Seven Steeples is its intelligent and satisfying portrayal of time." — New York Review of Books
“It takes both daring and humility to write a book as unique as Seven Steeples. In unfailingly precise and lyrical prose, and with a religious attention to even the humblest things of this world, Sara Baume pays homage to nature, to hearth and home, and to the miracle of a love engendered by the union of two solitaries.” — Sigrid Nunez, author of the National Book Award winner The Friend
“Seven Steeples is a portrait of a life, a house, a landscape, and of time itself. The accumulation of years feels palpable, as if we are watching the sifting grains of a sand clock, within this tender, hypnotic, and wholly original novel.” — Aysegül Savas, author of Walking on the Ceiling and White on White
“A triumph….I was utterly charmed by the gentle rhythms and precision of this intricately wrought existential inventory.” — Olivia Sudjic, author of Sympathy and Exposure
“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
“Subtle and luminous, playful and profound, Seven Steeples brings to life the symphonic voices and rhythms of nature. An exquisite tribute to the life in all things, and a testament to the worlds we build together.” — Roisin Kiberd, author of The Disconnect
“[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
“Lush imagery and poetic punctuation choices are ever-present in Seven Steeples, appealing to fans of Paulette Jiles and Geraldine Brooks...Baume sets readers down in a near-untamed wilderness and shrinks the world down to a garden, a cabin, and its profoundly resilient occupants.” — Booklist (starred review)