Monday, 22 November 2021

A Town Called Solace, by Mary Lawson, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart

You might say that I’m cheating by reviewing a novel written for adults in a blog about literature for children. But I have my excuse ready!


Mary Lawson’s ‘A Town Called Solace’ begins with the viewpoint of Clara, a seven-year-old child. As the story opens, she’s standing vigil at her window, waiting and trusting that if she’s remains there, watching, her rebellious teenage sister Rose will come to home. Rose has run away and can’t be found. Clara’s distraught parents are not telling her the truth about things, so she’s alone in her anguish. 


Also emotionally alone are the two key adults in this story. The old lady next door is called Elizabeth. She has also disappeared from Clara’s life, taken off to hospital, leaving Clara to feed her cat. Elizabeth is in anguish over a secret from her past. And then there’s the middle generation represented by Liam, escaping an unhappy marriage, taking temporary refuge in Elizabeth’s house and working with the local builder, with no notion of what to do with his future.


So we have three lonely and upset people, beautifully brought to life for us in their small town setting where the winter is harsh and everybody knows everybody’s business. The story magically works those three unhappy lives until they triangulate to support each other, revealing surprises, and leaving us with hope. 


This is a brilliant book.


My excuse? Well, the child character, of course, but also a thought that’s come to me before, but which I’ve done anything about. With a story properly involving both child and adult characters, might there be a way to write a version of that same story for child readers, with another version for adults? I’m not patient or clever enough to apply myself to that, but I wonder if it could ever be done well? 

1 comment:

Anne Booth said...

That sounds great. And I think you ARE good enough to write that!