Review 1352: Solace

Cover for SolaceSolace examines with intelligence and compassion a difficult relationship between father and son. This relationship is eventually made more complex by grief.

Mark Casey is a graduate student writing his Ph.D. dissertation in English literature at Trinity. He feels as if his father, Tom, expects his help on the farm too often. His presence at the farm is brokered by his mother, who barely lets a day go by after he has left before she is asking when he’ll be back. Mark has no interest in running the farm, however, even though his work on his dissertation is faltering.

Tom Casey thinks Mark was born to work the farm. Although Mark was interested in helping as a youngster, his interests began changing when he became a young man. Tom does not understand Mark’s choice of a profession and makes it clear that he thinks Mark will eventually choose to return to the farm. When they are together, they are soon arguing.

Then Mark meets Joanne Lynch at a party, and they begin dating. By rights, he should already know her, because she grew up not ten minutes down the road from home. However, since they were both young, his father has had a feud with Joanne’s, which has not ended with Brian Lynch’s death. The situation between Mark and Tom becomes more complicated when Joanne finds she is pregnant after they’ve only been dating a few weeks.

This novel shows insight into a difficult relationship, how both father and son say things they don’t mean while being unable to say what they do mean. Then their relationship is tested further through tragedy.

This is an interesting, empathetic novel about ordinary lives that I read for my James Tait Black project. It is touching and true to life and provides no easy answers for its characters.

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