Sara Baume’s Seven Steeples series is in line with her non-fiction books, which publishers regard as a sister publication, and is the recent in a series of excellent books by Irish writers, hopefully, in this year of reading. It covers eight years in the lives of Bell and sigh who move into an already neglected house in the shadow of a mountain they want to climb.

Among the new green lights emerged; yellow dots so blurred by the wind that, in all the brightness of the day, the broom seemed to shine.

Bell and sigh are in the early days of their relationship. On most things they agree, both tend to be lonely and misogynistic to the extent that they decide to leave the city, not so much to break their relationships with friends and family, but to let them fray and fade. Each of them has a dog: Voss the terrier and Pip the Lurcher. Together they are the only family they need. They lure their meager possessions into the house, use what is already there, calmly accept the merry wishes of the peasants and settle down. Soon a Routine is established: walking the dogs, searching the neighboring town for the most basic necessities, avoiding attempts at conversation with the locals. The years go on: nature repeats its cycle; the House continues to go-down; Bell and sigh continue their almost incessant conversation; Voss is engaged in a senseless Hunt sitting on Pip when he finishes. Their eighth Christmas is hard, freezing temperatures and snow, but in January they finally climb the mountain and look at the house where they have spent so many years that they are getting closer and farther from the world.

They thought they were going to get the dogs out, the dogs thought they were going to get them out.

Written in the poetic, almost musical language, that I remembered from his debut, the hammering, the wobbling, the withering, the seven torelles is a softly brilliant novel filled with so many citable passages that I could easily have devoted an entire review to it. Descriptive writing is rich in imagination, nature is vividly evoked, while the impracticability and inability of Bell and sigh to make decisions are depicted with soft and affectionate humor. Voss and Pip are a treat, as striking in their quirks as their owners-readers who are worried about the fate of fictional

dogs need not worry here. In this short novel.

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