Summary and book reviews of Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

by Sara Baume

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2016, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2017, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A debut novel already praised as "unbearably poignant and beautifully told" (Eimear McBride) this captivating story follows - over the course of four seasons - a misfit man who adopts a misfit dog.

It is springtime, and two outcasts — a man ignored, even shunned by his village, and the one-eyed dog he takes into his quiet, tightly shuttered life — find each other, by accident or fate, and forge an unlikely connection. As their friendship grows, their small, seaside town suddenly takes note of them, falsely perceiving menace where there is only mishap; the unlikely duo must take to the road. 

Gorgeously written in poetic and mesmerizing prose, Spill Simmer Falter Wither has already garnered wild support in its native Ireland, where the Irish Times pointed to Baume's "astonishing power with language" and praised it as "a novel bursting with brio, braggadocio and bite." It is also a moving depiction of how — over the four seasons echoed in the title — a relationship between fellow damaged creatures can bring them both comfort. One of those rare stories that utterly, completely imagines its way into a life most of us would never see, it transforms us not only in our understanding of the world, but also of ourselves.

PROLOGUE

He is running, running, running.

And it's like no kind of running he's ever run before. He's the surge that burst the dam and he's pouring down the hillslope, channelling through the grass to the width of his widest part. He's tripping into hoof-rucks. He's slapping groundsel stems down dead. Dandelions and chickweed, nettles and dock.

This time, there's no chance for sniff and scavenge and scoff. There are no steel bars to end his lap, no chain to jerk at the limit of its extension, no bellowing to trick and bully him back. This time, he's further than he's ever seen before, past every marker along the horizon line, every hump and spork he learned by heart.

It's the season of digging out. It's a day of soft rain. There's wind enough to tilt the slimmer trunks off kilter and drizzle enough to twist the long hairs on his back to a mop of damp curls. There's blood enough to gush into his beard and spatter his front...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Despite its flaws, I found Spill Simmer Falter Wither both moving and unforgettable, and recommend it to readers who enjoy literary, quietly paced character studies that focus on the healing bond between humans and animals.   (Reviewed by Sharry Wright).

Full Review (705 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Baume perhaps means to make a statement about marginalized people who live unnoticed in the midst of their communities, but something doesn't quite ring true in Ray's isolation.

Library Journal

Starred Review. This haunting debut novel by an award-winning Irish short story writer will appeal to readers who don't mind a little darkness in their dog stories. The detailed and almost poetic descriptions of the natural world as the seasons change add an element of enchantment to this lovely story.

The Atlantic

A deeply attuned portrait of the human mind…An unsettling literary surprise of the best sort. This first novel’s voice is singular in its humility and imaginative range…Baume’s novel revels in aesthetic leaps and dives, embracing the poetry of sensory experience in all its baffling beauty from the title onward…Baume’s prose makes sure we look and listen. Her book insists we take notice.

Booklist

Starred Review. Elegant, heartbreaking, and inspiring. . . The lyric, lilting style of Baume’s voice will endear even animal non-lovers to her thrilling and transformative story. With echoes of Mark Haddon’s narrative style and a healthy dose of empathy for the lost and lonely among us, Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a superlative first novel.

The Guardian (UK)

A deft and moving debut...To capture this constrained setting and quiet character requires specific skills, which Baume has in spades.

The Daily Mail (UK)

Sara Baume is a novelist to watch.

Times Literary Supplement (UK)

Ambitious and impressive ... Baume's engaging, intriguing and brightly original first novel may mark a comparably significant debut.

The Independent on Sunday (UK)

Extraordinary ... Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a heartbreaking read, and heralds Baume as a major new talent.

The Herald (UK)

Told in splendid prose, with lyrical descriptions of the landscape, it's an involving story and possibly the best first novel to emerge from Ireland since Eimear McBride's debut.

The Observer (UK)

[A] fine debut...Baume succeeds in reawakening her reader's capacity for wonder...so much so that the book and its one-eyed dog became companions I was loathe to leave.

New Statesman (UK)

[Baume’s] rhythmic, intimate prose abounds with startling sights, smells and sounds...Places and smells, plants and animals are conjured with loving attention, the narrative propelled by a striking linguistic intensity...Baume’s capacity for wonder turns this portrait of an unusual friendship into a powerful meditation on humanity

Joseph O'Connor, for The Irish Times

A tour de force ... At its heart is a touching and inspiriting sense of empathy, that rarest but most human of traits. Boundaries melt, other hearts become knowable...This book is a stunning and wonderful achievement by a writer touched by greatness.

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

One of the most quietly devastating books of the year…With Spill Simmer Falter Wither she has created a dark, tender portrait of what it’s like to live life on the margins.

Author Blurb Anne Enright
This book is like a flame in daylight: beautiful and unexpected. It packs a big effect for something that seems so slight, and almost hard to see.

Author Blurb Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing
Unbearably poignant and beautifully told.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Emotional Support Animals

In Spill Simmer Falter Wither, One Eye provides a lot of emotional support to Ray.

Anyone who has owned a pet knows how much they can contribute to emotional well-being — studies at University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Center for Human and Animal Interaction show that interacting with animals increases our level of the hormone oxytocin, making us happier and more trusting. So in a general sense, all our animal companions might be considered emotional support animals. But there are laws and rules that govern the claim that an animal is an official ESA with the legal rights that go with the designation.

Contrary to what many believe, an Emotional Support Animal is not legally the same as a ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Spill Simmer Falter Wither, try these:

  • Lily and the Octopus jacket

    Lily and the Octopus

    by Steven Rowley

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.

  • Weathering jacket

    Weathering

    by Lucy Wood

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A dreamlike tale tale that explores big topics - belonging, mortality, love - though the lives of three women (one who is dead), and old house, and a river....

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice


Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Seven Days of Us
    by Francesca Hornak

    A warm, wry debut novel about a family forced to spend a week together over the holidays.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.