A Line Made by Walking
Novel of the week
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)
With her second novel, the author of 2015’s breathtaking Spill Simmer Falter Wither has retreated into her own head, said Melissa Harrison in the Financial Times. That’s not a terrible thing, though, because her writing is “near faultless: instinctively balanced, precise, and often surprising.” Those qualities even hold when her protagonist is a young would-be artist who has holed up in a rural home in Ireland to nurse her doubts. “If you’ve ever looked inside yourself and disliked what you saw,” said Dwight Garner in The New York Times, “you will respond to Frankie.” She’s a dark cloud around whom little happens, but even when this book about her becomes a dull wallow, it occasionally spits out another prickly and profound line. “It’s time to accept that I am average,” Frankie thinks at one point, “and to stop making this acceptance of my averageness into a bereavement.” At times, she will “make you want to send her to her room without supper,” said Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal. But you’ll still be glad to have met her.