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  • Published: 16 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784743932
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $37.00

A Town Called Solace


Set in the frozen north of Canada in 1972, this is a novel about childhood trauma, painful histories that need reckoning with and the moments in life when we can change for the better

'I've been trying to tell everybody I know about Mary Lawson... [Each of her novels is] just a marvel' ANNE TYLER

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 thirty 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.

  • Published: 16 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784743932
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $37.00

About the author

Mary Lawson

Mary Lawson is a Canadian author. Her first novel, Crow Lake (2002), is a tense and heart-breaking drama of family love and buried resentment set in rural Ontario, carefully crafted and sparkling with humour, which won the 2003 McKitterick Prize. Her second novel, The Other Side of the Bridge (2006), is the compelling and vivid story of two generations of a family who are tragically torn apart by the Second World War, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize that year and selected for the Richard and Judy book club. Her most recent novel, Road Ends (2013), tells the enthralling tale of the Cartwright family unravelling in the aftermath of a tragedy, set against the chilling backdrop of a frozen landscape in the first half of the 20th century.

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Praise for A Town Called Solace

There's a beauty and simplicity in her [Lawson's] stories set in small-town Canada

Nina Pottell, Prima

A lovely, gentle novel with edge, worthy of Anne Tyler


This is Mary Lawson's fourth novel and I'd recommend a binge immersion... Lawson has carved out a world in Northern Ontario that's vividly, absorbingly real; she captures tones and voices with exactitude in writing that's idiomatic but never flashy and carries you along from midnight to dawn, oblivious of the time.

Nooni Minogue, Literary Review

Poised, elegant prose, paired with quiet drama that will break your heart. The sort of book that seems as if it has always existed because of its timeless perfection

Graham Norton

Anne Tyler is a big fan of this Canadian author and so am I

Good Housekeeping

[An] absorbing novel

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express

Mary Lawson writes with a pure simplicity... she has the God-given ability to convey the complexities of human nature in everyday language... It was only on a second reading that I came to realise quite how intricately plotted A Town Called Solace is: like a magician, Lawson hides her technique, and makes it all seem as natural as breathing... she possesses an instinctive feel for when to withhold information, and when to release it

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

Lawson's books are a pleasure to read - they conjure a space where quiet reflection and owning your past mistakes bring gentle rewards; they feel kind and wise and brimful of empathy

Siobhan Murphy, The Times

Completely absorbing... A Town Called Solace pleases at every level. It's a captivating tale suffused with wisdom and compassion

Brett Josef Grubisic, Toronto Star

[In A Town Called Solace] doubts, difficulties and uncertainties of the human condition are examined carefully in a way that is both heartbreaking and joyful

Bridie Pritchard, UK Press Syndication

Subtle and darkly funny, this tender novel unspools the interconnected lives of her beautifully drawn characters, as they grapple with grief and loss, while steadfastly hoping for a change of happiness in the face of life's uncertainties

Eithne Farry, UK Press Syndication

Lawson's writing is such that it appears effortless but, as all the strands come together to create a rich and satisfying tapestry, her genius for storytelling becomes apparent.

Irish Independent

Beautifully written and so finely crafted; told in the kind of prose I most admire because it takes what appears to be complicated and makes it clear . . . These interwoven stories of three people at different stages of life, and yet each struggling with their own form of loss and grief, will stay with me the way good friendships stay with you. It's already one of my favourite books of the year

Rachel Joyce

[Lawson] writes an unpretentious prose that zings with metaphorical vim and humour

Tablet, *Summer Reads of 2021*

Lawson's writing is clear and emotive... In this poignant novel, rightfully recognised by the Booker judges, the steadfastness of children brings solace to lost grown-ups

Francesca Carington, Sunday Telegraph, *Novel of the Week*

Exquisitely poignant

Liane Moriarty, Good Housekeeping

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