A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson
Vintage Digital, 2021
ebook, borrowed from the library
My first 5-star book of 2022, A Town Called Solace was a classic case of the right book at the right time. I've been aware of Canadian author Mary Lawson for a long time - probably since Crow Lake was published twenty (!) years ago - but had never read her. After hearing Anne Bogel recommend Lawson's latest novel to a guest on her What Should I Read Next? podcast, I looked into it and decided to give it a try myself.
Set in Canada's northern reaches, the novel is told from the alternating perspectives of three very different characters, each in the midst of a crisis. First is Clara, an 8-year-old whose sister has run away. She spends hours looking out the living room window awaiting her return. What she sees instead is a stranger, a man in this 30s, carrying boxes into her elderly neighbor's home. The neighbor is in the hospital and Clara is taking care of her cat.
Liam, the stranger, had known the elderly neighbor (Mrs. Orchard) when he was a young child. After leaving his wife and quitting his job, he is currently at loose ends.
Finally we hear from Mrs. Orchard. While in the hospital, she speaks to her dead husband and recalls events from the distant past which involved Liam.
I absolutely loved this book! The narrative voice of each character is spot on and the chapters flow seamlessly one into the next. As the novel unfolds, the reader gradually pieces the story together. Lawson's beautiful writing makes for an even richer reading experience.
A Town Called Solace has earned a spot on my goodreads favorites shelf and I added all of Lawson's previous novels to my wish list. Since my mother's library does not own a copy, I ordered one and had it delivered to her. She read it immediately and loved it, too. My sister will read it next.
If you enjoy character-driven novels, this one has my highest recommendation.