by Belinda McKeon

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Solace 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Her_Royal_Orangeness on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You know those days when it rains and rains, unrelenting, making you feel miserable and bereft, making you forget that there is such a thing as sunshine and hope? That is the mood of ¿Solace.¿ Quiet. Grey. Melancholy. ¿Solace¿ is Mark¿s story. His struggles with his doctoral thesis. His struggles with his father and the responsibility he feels to help with his father¿s farm. His relationship with a woman named Joanne. And when a tragedy occurs, it is about the darkness of Mark¿s grief.Communication, or the lack thereof, is the theme of ¿Solace.¿ It is an intriguing exploration of what we say, and don¿t say, and how we misunderstand, and are misunderstood. Unfortunately, the author¿s attempt to convey this theme often feels overbearing, like she wants to make absolutely certain that you ¿get it.¿ I would have preferred something more subtle, like the tantalizing fragrance of lilacs drifting on a spring breeze. The dialogue is superb, rich with Irish syntax and colloquiums, and was perhaps what I loved most about the book. The prose is pellucid, though at times it is poetic as well. It is very much an Irish novel, and the plot is heartbreaking, universal, and timeless.¿Solace¿ is a solidly good attempt at a first novel, and there is certainly evidence that McKeon¿s future works will be brilliant.
jody on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clever as we have managed to evolve as a species, we are yet to unravel the complicated matter of surviving as a family unit. In particular, the terminally dysfunctional Irish strain. We are first introduced to Mark Casey, a Trinity scholar struggling with his thesis on Maria Edgeworth, an 18th century novelist. His interest and his research is waning at an alarming rate when he meets and is smitten with Joanne, a beautiful young law trainee. They date and become semi-serious, even though Mark soon realises she is the daughter of Frank Lynch, a local lawyer from the farming village of his youth and a proven enemy of his father¿s. Sound familiar? Not really. Solace is not some soppy, woebegone tale of star-crossed lovers. This entanglement is the least of Mark¿s worries as he battles the guilt and obligations of an only son leaving the family bosom and farm duties for the stimuli of city living in Dublin. For he is not only judged by his own family, but by the entire population of his parents¿ world. A public jilting his father is not going to forgive.The stilted phone conversations Mark has with his father (often through the mother) over when he will next be home, is an excruciating example of what some families suffer in the communication stakes. More than once I could have screamed in frustration at the inability of these people to express themselves to one another. McKeon does a brilliant job of showing the two sides of this dilemma. Both generations are well represented here. The inner struggles of all the major characters subtly weave the story together until you feel empathy for each and every one of them. Tragedy is never far away in these stories and when it hits, is as much a blow to the reader as those within the pages. Asked to suffer a loss that would cripple the best of us, Mark and his father embark on a journey of healing and forgiveness in their own starchy, undemonstrative style. Heartbreaking and totally believable in its reality. This is a novel that has been lovingly created by its author and you can feel it in every page. A salute to the power of family, love, and the strength to endure.
teresa1953 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very accomplished and emotional debut novel, very sensitively written.The central character, Mark Casey, raised on a farm in rural Ireland, has left home to pursue a doctorate In Dublin. However, he is unable to focus on his studies or find the time to produce an eloquent thesis, much to the dismay of his lecturers. His father, Tom, fails to understand why Mark¿s life doesn¿t revolve around the farm. Tom is finding it difficult to cope with the heavy workload. There is the hay which needs baling and the fields need ploughing¿surely Mark should be coming home every weekend to help his father out? Mark appears to have no focus whatsoever and is content to spend his time partying and the temptation of the Dublin bars is easy to succumb to. It¿s at one of these parties, that he meets Joanne, a trainee solicitor. He is captivated by her and their love affair is inevitable. It also ensures that Mark¿s home visits dwindle even further because Tom and Joanne¿s father were sworn enemies, before the latter died when Joanne was eleven years old. Then Joanne becomes pregnant and there is a kernel of acceptance of the situation. Maura, Mark¿s mother becomes extremely fond of Joanne and the new baby Aoife. Then tragedy strikes, and the two men¿s lives are changed forever.The relationship between Tom and Mark is very compelling, and the growing affection that Tom has for Aoife¿¿. I found very touching. Mark is a man who wants to do the right thing for both his child and for his father, but he is unable to commit to both. Tom is close to a breakdown, but his son is not around enough to see what is happening. When Mark does come home, he is horrified by the radical changes Tom has made to the farm. The men have found very different ways of dealing with their grief.Belinda McKeon has written a novel full of wisdom and compassion. Her understanding of relationships is immense and her depiction of grief, in it¿s many forms, is sensitively depicted here. This is a quiet story which delivers a very emotional punch and I believe we will be hearing a lot more from Belinda McKeon.This book was made available to me, prior to publication, for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago