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A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson - Review

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

This was the November choice, chosen by Margarate who never steers us wrong. I'm writing this before the book club meets, but I think generally the reaction to the book will be positive. We'll see though!

There are three strands to the book, which is set in 1972. First of all there's Clara. She is eight years old and lives in Solace, Northern Ontario, with her parents and older sister Rose. Rose is sixteen and just before the beginning of the book she has run away. This has happened before but she's only ever been gone for a couple of nights, not for a week or more. Clara has decided to stand in the window watching for her sister until Rose returns home, which is why she sees the man move into Mrs Orchard's house next door. She watches intently, watching him move Mrs Orchard's possessions around. She has to keep going next door because she promised Mrs Orchard that she would look after her cat, Moses, until she comes out of hospital. 

The man is Liam, and the second strand of the story is his. He is in his late thirties and he's just split up with his wife, Fiona. They lived in Toronto. Liam has been left the house by Elizabeth Orchard, a woman from his childhood who he barely remembers. Liam is an accountant, but he's quite dissastisfied with his life and ends up working for the local joiner/handyman. Everyone in the small town knows that he's arrived. The local sheriff comes to talk to him about the missing girl, but Liam obviously knows nothing but realises that the family next door - and especially Clara - are fragile

The third strand is Elizabeth. She is in hospital, at the end of her life. She was only supposed to be in for a couple of weeks, hence her asking Clara to look after that cat, but it turns out that her heart is failing and there's nothing doctors can do about it. She is reminiscing about her past, her thoughts directed towards her late husband. She goes over how they met Liam's family and how they got so attached to him that she would then leave him the house and, when she dies, most of her money.

I liked the story about Rose and Clara's naivety about the situation. I really liked Liam, who really grew over the course of the book. I didn't love Elizabeth's storyline, and I felt it was a bit obvious where it was going. I'm giving this four out of five because I mostly really liked it.

1 comment

  1. I have this and am looking forward to reading it! I loved Mary Lawson's other books, especially her first one Crow Lake, the realisation the protagonist comes to at the end is absolutely chef's kiss.



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