A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson
Alfred A Knopf Canada - 2021
Set in 1972 in the small town of Solace in northern Ontario, Canada, A Town Called Solace, was one of those rare books that hit all the right notes with me.
Clara is a young girl (almost 8) who has a lot on her mind. She sits vigil by the front window ever since her 16 year old sister Rose, a somewhat rebellious teen, went missing 12 days earlier after arguing with her mother. As she sees her parents sick with worry Clara is lucky to have a bit of a distraction caring for her hospitalized elderly neighbor, Elizabeth Orchard's cat Moses. One day while looking out of her window Clara notices a young man carrying heavy boxes into Mrs. Orchard's house. We learn that the man is Liam Kane, no relation to Mrs. Orchard, but, he has inherited her house.
Why has a woman Liam barely remembers gifted him her house? What is the connection here and, can a young man like Liam separated from his wife find a future in small town Solace? What happened to Rose?
The story is a character driven novel that is told in (3) distinct voices by Clara, Liam and Elizabeth. The writing is beautiful and easy to follow even if you are feeling a bit distracted. It made me feel like I was there in the town of Solace. The characters felt genuine, they were everyday people that I really grew to care about. I was quickly engaged in the story which had a bit of mystery to it as well. We learn about the connection between Elizabeth and Liam as she speaks about the past to her late husband from her hospital bed. There were a few somewhat sadder moments but they were very brief and, overall, I found the ending was ultimately hopeful. A story about love, death, family and community. I loved the small town feel and, for me, this was mostly a real comfort type read and exactly what I needed. Highly recommended.
Rating - 5/5 stars