Book Review: Solace by Belinda McKeon

Title: Solace
Author: Belinda McKeon
Publisher: Pan
Genre: Literary Fiction
ISBN: 978-0330532327
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

This isn’t a book to choose if you want pace and plot: it’s a slow, gentle meditation, almost, on those classic literary themes: the tension between father and son, between the older generation and the younger, between the country and city, between family and individual, between dependence and autonomy. It is also the tale of a binding tragedy and the gulf of loneliness between them in today’s Ireland, slowly sinking into poverty and hardship.

The father is Tom Casey, a taciturn, withdrawn, hard-hit man, who is a farmer working in County Longford in Southern Ireland. He is the kind of man whose education is limited and he wants nothing more from life than what he already has. He belongs to the generation of men who believe themselves to be the king of their proverbial castle and every command of theirs should be adhered and obeyed – irrespective of it being right or wrong.

The person Tom connects least with is his son Mark, who as the book opens, is down from Dublin, visiting with his young daughter Aiofe, to help his father with the farm chores. The dynamics of the relationship between the father and the son are strained: Tom sees Mark as a sour human being, while Mark views his father as a cold and calculating human being. The strain of their relationship is felt through the entire Casey clan and this is all due to an incident that changed their entire course of lives.

I will not give away the incident even though it is a part of the prologue mainly because I feel that readers should discover most of the plot by themselves. Belinda’s writing is magical – not once did I find the need to keep the book away. The words are few and beyond, however the emotion is exact – it makes you empathize and think about the last time you were faced with such powerful and overwhelming emotions.

Solace is a book that will speak to you on different levels. For me, it made me realize and think back about the kind of relationship I shared with my father while I was growing up and it wasn’t easy. I could relate to a lot of passages and events describe and maybe that is the reason I could connect more. Solace is a book I would definitely recommend to all. Hope you are able to read and discover what I did.

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Solace: A Novel

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