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A Town Called Solace


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It's 1972 and in a small town in Ontario 7 year old Clara stands by the living room window watching and waiting for her runaway sister Rose to come back. Her next door neighbour Elizabeth is in hospital thinking back to when she was a young married woman and Liam, newly separated moves into Elizabeth's house, given to him by someone he can barely remember.


The three stories interweave with perfect plotting, exquisite writing and great insight into the various characters.  Mary Lawson is a quiet writer of such deceptive simplicity that it  could lead some people to think dismissively that she's a mid-list easy read for those who think themselves above airport novels. I would disagree, I loved this book, there wasn't a duff sentence in it, and will certainly read it again, I enjoyed it so much I read it too quickly.


Highly recommended.

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    • By Momo
      Mary Lawson - Crow Lake - 2002
      I've read this book twice, the first time when I borrowed it, the second time when we read it in the book club. I really, really loved this novel. Although it had been my suggestion, two other members had read it and confirmed this choice, so we elected to read it. I think it was one of the two only books we read that year that everybody enjoyed.
      This is the story of a girl who is raised by her two older brothers and it describes the struggle they go through on their way to adulthood. The book combines everything, tragedy, drama, love story, sacrifices, the "togetherness" of a small community. The characters are well written, and so are the episodes.
      A lot of the everyday childhood stories reminded me of my own. I thought the children must have been about my age and a lot of the rural life in Canada must have been similar to the rural life everywhere else in the world, well, at least in the western world. Mind you, not everyone in the book club agreed with that, the younger ones thought they had been their age. I loved the book and so did everyone else because it made No. 1 on our Favourite Books' List.
      I am really looking forward to the author's second novel, "The Other Side of the Bridge" which is supposed to be published this year.
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    • Guest Gyro
      By Guest Gyro
      Good afternoon everyone,
      I wonder if anyone would be interested in discussing The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson. This was published by Chatto and Windus, Random House(London) last year. It was recommended to me by my dear friend, Ladyaemy, and I want to repeat my thanks to her for proposing this novel to me. It is certainly worth reading.
      Lawson's first book (haven't read it...sorry) The Crow Lake enjoyed some attention, particularly in Lawson's native Canada, when published in 2003. The other side is her second novel.
      The book's initial chapters have an interesting structure. The scene alternatives between the 1930s and the 1950s, with one of the principal characters - Arthur Dunn - appearing both as a boy in the former and as a adult in the latter. We also have an interplay in passions over Laura, Arthur's wife by the 1950s. But this is becoming close to being a spoiler....
      I suppose that one of the first points to establish is Lawson's place in Canadian literature. The parallels between this novel and Margaret Lawrence's The Diviners are too numerous to mention. And, without causing Ladyaemy any upset, Margaret Atwood has also covered the themes of life in rural Canada. Is there space, I wonder, room for anyone else on these vast plains?
      So, come on, let us go then, you and I (and everyone else) and enjoy a new voice in Can lit....
      All good wishes
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