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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021.

Clara's sister is missing. Angry, rebellious Rose had a row with their mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. Eight-year-old Clara, isolated by her distraught parents' efforts to protect her from the truth, is grief-stricken and bewildered.

Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, moves into the house next door, a house left to him by an old woman he can barely remember and within hours gets a visit from the police. It seems he's suspected of a crime.

At the end of her life Elizabeth Orchard is thinking about a crime too, one committed 30 years ago that had tragic consequences for two families and in particular for one small child. She desperately wants to make amends before she dies.

Set in Northern Ontario in 1972, A Town Called Solace explores the relationships of these three people brought together by fate and the mistakes of the past. By turns gripping and darkly funny, it uncovers the layers of grief and remorse and love that connect us, but shows that sometimes a new life is possible.

©2021 Mary Lawson (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"I've been trying to tell everyone I know about Mary Lawson.... Each one of her novels is just a marvel." (Anne Tyler) 

What listeners say about A Town Called Solace

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Brilliantly real!

I absolutely loved this and will look out for this Canadian novelist Mary Lawson who was new to me.

It's set in cold, snowy, windy, chilly northern Canada (there's a lot about the cold outside - a metaphor perhaps) in sparsely populated Solace where everyone knows what everyone does or has done. What is so distinctive and accomplished is that the three main characters in the threads of the story which are intertwined are from different generations - elderly widowed Mrs Orchard now in hospital dying, Liam who Mrs Orchard and her husband used to look after when a child and to whom Mrs Orchard has left her house is in his 30s and Clara - living next door to Mrs Orchard and looking after her cat whilst she is in hospital and whose 16 year-old tearaway sister Rose has gone missing - is 8 years old. The achievement is in the way the author gets inside the minds and life experiences of each one with infinite poignancy and understanding making them startlingly real and whole, even the minor characters who play their parts. I can't say more without giving away these deftly plaited stories - but it is compulsive and deeply moving. The very last sentence is a complete surprise because it is suddenly the end with all the threads not tied up. But I think that last sentence is positive and promises comfort - see what you think!

The narration is excellent (each of these three narrating their own sections) - Mrs Orchard who longed for a child of her own is achingly moving as she reviews her life, and Clara is fantastic (narrators being children can be disastrous) as a feisty, confused child desperately missing her adored sister and finding solace in the cat she's looking after.

9 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

Absolutely loved this book and it is one I will listen to again and recommend

6 people found this helpful

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Miscast audiobook

I am a huge fan of Mary Lawson’s work and I enjoyed this book immensely. I’m afraid that the casting of the female audio characters was so bad that it drove me to buy a physical copy of the book. I found the voices of both Elizabeth and Clara extremely grating. I read most of the book myself. It is a moving story about dysfunctional people seeking the comfort of love and friendship after loss and disappointment. I found Elizabeth’s obsession with Liam rather disturbing but the dénouement worked well imho. Do read the book. It is very thought provoking.

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I Would Have Given 10 Stars

I loved it and so well read. Absolutely beautiful and gentle and perfect. Don’t hesitate. I don’t give 5 stars easily and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

3 people found this helpful

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Respects the child's perspective

Changing patterns of behaviour and thinking is hard for children and adults alike. Most of us would benefit from change but it is a risky and uncomfortable process. sometimes events conspire against us and sometimes they support us.

the three main personal stories in this book (relating to Elizabeth Clara and Liam) show the challenges of going against the flow.

Superb ending

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Read or Listen to This

Highly recommend this on all counts. I’m now going to go to all the other books written by this author. Absolutely hooked me in.

2 people found this helpful

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Gentle tale of belonging

Very well narrated by three voices. Each chapter is like a short story. Very resonant of Alice Munro but with darker undertones. Her use of objects to help paint a picture is exceptional. Indeed solace for our troubled times.

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Stunning

So beautifully written and so beautifully read. It is soulful and almost melodic! Storytelling at its finest.

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A wonderful read!

Hadn’t come across this author before, but so glad I have found this authentic voice. Everything about this book rings true, strikes a chord and makes you recall or rethink. I loved it! It’s a slow, but always engaging, listen and how it packed so much into a modest length with it feeling a leisurely pace is a wonder. Some of the best narration I have listened to.......and I have listened to a lot of audio books! I forgot it was one man at times as his repertoire is so good. So I thoroughly recommend this mystery/ family observation/ love story with a bit of humour thrown in and will be searching for more Mary Lawson right now. Enjoy. It is well worth a credit.

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Beautiful

Excellent story and equally great narration.
I love Mary Lawton and think this audio version did justice to the book.

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  • Needles
  • 18-10-21

Dull

One publicist's "brilliant and emotionally radiant" is another person's "dull and mildly corny"
Narration of the 7-year old Clara was annoyingly shrill