The Line Painter: A Novel

Paperback | March 27, 2007

byClaire Cameron

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It’s 1:08 a.m. when Carrie’s car breaks down on the highway somewhere north of Lake Superior. It’s dark, the road is quiet, her cell phone is down, and she is alone. She took off from Toronto that morning, running from grief over the death of her boyfriend, and unable to cope with the truth about the events that led to it. The relief Carrie feels as a truck pulls up soon turns to fear after its driver offers her a lift. Frank, her would-be rescuer, is a line painter, putting lines on the road “to stop people from being killed.” But after Carrie gets in the truck, she starts to realize that this will be the road trip of her life—a trip of terror, transformation and forgiveness.

Claire Cameron has created a unique portrait of Carrie, a young woman whose actions are driven by grief and shame, her personality a beguiling combination of naïveté and streetsmarts. Frank is equally sharply drawn, his flashes of humour and tenderness disguising the wreckage within. Written in spare, unvarnished prose that brims with menace against the forbidding backdrop of a northern landscape, The Line Painter takes us on a riveting trip down a twisted road of memory and redemption.

“Smoke?”

I looked over. He held up two cigarettes. I had quit. It was all part of my campaign of the past few years to try and grow up. Quit smoking, drink less, no drugs, move in with boyfriend and play house, get a real job and wear a suit. I stopped short of wearing nude-coloured hosiery, but only just. It was my own sort of a personal temperance plan. If I could just suppress all my bad urges then . . . um . . . I’d forgotten what, actually.

But Frank wasn’t just asking me to smoke. This was quite a different thing. Frank was trying to forge a link. He was calling a truce. He was trying to bond. He was offering me a peace pipe of sorts, though packaged with a few more chemicals and a filter.

I took a smoke and accepted Frank’s outstretched lighter. I inhaled deeply. I never have any trouble starting smoking again and I certainly didn’t this time. . . . I sat down on the shoulder a safe distance away from him.—from The Line Painter

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From the Publisher

It’s 1:08 a.m. when Carrie’s car breaks down on the highway somewhere north of Lake Superior. It’s dark, the road is quiet, her cell phone is down, and she is alone. She took off from Toronto that morning, running from grief over the death of her boyfriend, and unable to cope with the truth about the events that led to it. The relief C...

CLAIRE CAMERON was born in 1973 and grew up in Toronto. She studied history at Queen’s Universityand then worked as an instructor for Outward Bound, teaching mountaineering, climbing and whitewaterrafting in Oregon. Moving to London in 1999, she founded Shift Media, a consultancy withclients including the BBC, McGraw-Hill and Oxford U...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.63 inPublished:March 27, 2007Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0002008351

ISBN - 13:9780002008358

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Customer Reviews of The Line Painter: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as 'The Bear' I loved The Bear. Line painter was a little disappointing. It moved along very very slowly. The characters were interesting but the plot was dull.
Date published: 2015-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic Noir with a Canadian Twist This is a very difficult book to summarize as it is best to go into this book with only the knowledge that the book flaps give. Carrie's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, way up in Northern Ontario. It is the middle of the night and her cell phone is getting a very small, off and on, signal. As anyone who knows Northern Ontario at night there is nothing but thick forests of trees, very dark, animal sounds and no other traffic to be seen. But Carrie does see a large truck slowly coming towards her that pulls over and asks if her car is broke. The man has a menacing aura about him and at first Carrie doesn't want to get in his truck but she eventually does and discovers he is a civic worker and he is on duty, his truck paints the lines on the roads. Much happens in this story which had a genuine feel of an old B/W classic noir film. There is a sense of suspense and an unnerving feel throughout the book but I wouldn't classify this as belonging to the suspense genre. The book is about so much more. Carrie learns a lot about herself, comes to terms with her past and knows that her future will never be the same. What starts off as a road trip for Carrie ends up becoming the life defining ride of her life. I really enjoyed this book. The suspense kept me firmly planted on the edge of my seat and as the plot revealed itself I quickly became aware that I was getting into something more than a suspense novel. Though the reader, just like Carrie, never really knows whether her safety is in jeopardy or not. A wonderful portrait of Norther Ontario, small town rural life and the eccentric characters who populate such places. A very satisfying read.
Date published: 2008-11-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lots of Internal Emotions Carrie is unable to deal with the tragic death of her boyfriend, battling depression and guilt she quits her job and decides to take a road trip west to clear her head. Her car brakes down north of Lake Superior, in the middle of God’s country where there is no cell phone service and humans are rarely seen. It is dark when a large truck pulls over, her rescuer Frank leaves her with an unfavourable gut feeling but with no other option available she accepts a ride to Hearst that seems never ending. Out of necessity Carrie begins a two day relationship with Frank a man with a dark past, anger and control issues. She soon realizes that this is compounding her problems and her past will always be with her. She must return home in order to face her dilemma head on with the help of family and friends. Although this novel grabbed me immediately with its captivating suspense I found it lost some of its momentum in the second part when the mood becomes dark and creepy and the story focuses more on internal emotions. It seemed to me that it revolved more around grief, guilt, love and forgiveness and less about terrifying and chilling events found in a mystery. Maybe it was the author’s intent. As for the characters, they are clearly drawn: Carrie is an urban chick lost in the wilderness of her thoughts and Frank is a man of few words and a dry sense of humour. To me they were two very sad cases. The dialogue and narration is mostly one liner or short sentences, a very interesting and effective style of writing making this novel short and sweet. A promising debut for this author.
Date published: 2008-10-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not What I Expected - But Still Very Good! The Line Painter was a bit of an unusual book choice for me. For the first 80 pages or so, I wasn't really into the book. I found the writing a bit disjointed and I couldn't really relate to the characters. However, by the time I reached the middle of the book, I really wanted to know more about the story behind the main character, Carrie, and I wanted to know how the unfolding events would end. I started to enjoy the writing style. What I at first thought was disjointed became a clever way of using words sparingly to tell the story. The story revolves around Carrie's car breaking down on a deserted highway at night and she is picked up by a stranger. I expected the book to be her struggle for her life at the hands of a killer. Instead, it was about a struggle for her life but as a great character study as she dealt with her own demons to try and regain her life. This was a super easy book to read. I will definitely check out future books by this author.
Date published: 2008-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Real Head Trip of a Road Trip Cameron has done an excellent job of taking a cheesy horror movie premise and offering an intriguing and satisfying twist to it. She sets up two unlikely road trip companions each with their own deeply buried secrets, and teasingly reveals more and more about their "hidden" pasts as the highway slowly unrolls in front of them. In much the same way that Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness" was a river-boat trip into the depths of internal darkness, Cameron's novel is a road trip that probes those painful-to-reveal elements of darkness we all like to keep hidden from others as well as from ourselves. Anyone who has ever driven alone on an unlit highway in the middle of night, or tried in vein to run from their past is going to appreciate the brilliant way that this author has married the two concepts so wonderfully in this novel.
Date published: 2007-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One word to describe this book "The Line Painter is one of those books that make you wish you would never be stranded on a deserted road anywhere or outside in the dark wilderness by yourself. When I first picked up this book I was quite intrigued by what had happened to Carrie’s husband, as it is quite a surprise that we do not learn until near the end of the book. It is also quite chilling to hear of Carrie’s account of being stranded by the roadside and being picked up by a creepy and gruff looking line painter. What really kept me wanting to read to the end of the novel was that I wanted to find out if the line painter was really a bad character like you are lead to believe or is he really there to help Carrie? The story kept me guessing the whole time, as the line painter’s intentions seemed to change every day in the story and he is a tough character to figure out. I really enjoyed the suspense in the story, but am really hoping that I will never be stranded out on a highway anywhere by myself!" Note: I do not want to give away too much of the plot as one of the things this book does is leave you wondering what will Carrie do next? It was very hard to put this book down as you want to keep on reading to find out what will happen to the characters in the novel.
Date published: 2007-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderful debut Carrie, the protagonist of Claire Cameron's debut novel The Line Painter, is consumed by grief after the sudden death of her boyfriend Bill. She takes off in Bill's car, headed, she decides, for the western reaches of Canada. Friends and family, worried--both about her state-of-mind and for her safety--call repeatedly on her cell phone, leaving messages that give us, as readers, insight into Carrie's plight and hint at a darker reason for her sudden departure. In a remote area, north of Lake Superior, Carrie's car breaks down in the middle of the night. She hasn't passed another car for hours, her friends and family have no idea where she is, her cell phone can't find service, and most immediately pressing of all, she has an overfull bladder. Universal law dictates that as soon as she squats, headlights appear. But--no ordinary headlights--these belong to the truck of a line painter. In the remotest regions of Canada, Frank works the night shift, alone, tranforming dingy grey road lines into bright white reflective ones, with the help of millions of tiny glass beads suspended in the paint. He offers Carrie a (very slow) ride into the nearest town. Carrie, we soon realize, is an enigmatic character: she takes up smoking again, because it seems like the thing to do; she tells us she tried, earnestly, to make herself "grow up" by moving in with her boyfriend, wearing suits, and playing house; and she alternates between naivete and world-weariness. Early on, her inability to distinguish real danger from imagined, her impulsive attempts to establish control over the situation, and her refusal to face her problems are a source of readerly frustration. But as the story unfolds, her doubts and anxieties begin to make perfect sense. By the end of the book, I was captivated by Carrie's experiences and by her heart, which was larger than I ever expected. The layers of guilt, regret, grief and loss that emerge in the last third of the book expose the beating heart of this unusual story.
Date published: 2007-04-06