A Town Called Solace: a slow burner with fire at its heart

Book review: Mary Lawson is an incisive chronicler of small-town life, writes John Boyne

Mary Lawson, author of A Town Called Solace. Photograph:  Christian Sinibaldi

Mary Lawson, author of A Town Called Solace. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi

Canadian Mary Lawson may have flown a little under the radar since her first novel, Crow Lake, was published almost 20 years ago, but she deserves to reach a wider audience. From the beginning she’s proved herself an incisive chronicler of small-town life. Here, in her fourth book, she returns to her familiar northern Ontario landscape for a contemplative story about loss and regret, a slow-burn of a read with a fire at its heart.

The narrative is divided between three characters: the elderly Mrs Orchard, dying in hospital; thirtysomething Liam, to whom she has bequeathed her house; and seven-year-old Clara, the girl next door who is suffering from twin traumas – the disappearance of her elder sister Rose and the outrage she feels over this strange man taking up residence in her neighbour’s home. 

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.