Review: A Town Called Solace, by Mary Lawson
This is a book that I don't think I would have ever picked up if it hadn't been on the Booker longlist - but I'm really quite glad I did! I thought this was a lovely, peaceful read that still tackled some tough subjects in a way that felt light-touch and compassionate while still being very compelling.
I will just very quickly raise the only issue I had with the novel: I felt like the pacing of Elizabeth's POV chapters was a bit off, and the emotional climax was a bit crammed into a too-short final chapter when it would have perhaps been a bit more satisfying if the climax hadn't felt so rushed.
Right, anyway, moving swiftly on.
This was a lovely book - the sense of setting and atmosphere was excellently well-done, and the language was very evocative while remaining easy to read. I also found the misaligned timelines from the interweaving chapters very interesting - it took me a while to get used to it, but once I did, I thought it added an extra layer of introspection and nuance to a story that was mainly about how people react to the world in very different ways, and can interpret a situation in entirely conflicting ways based on their interpretations of context and individual backgrounds.
And I just absolutely loved it. It was such a peaceful read, for something that was basically about a missing teenager and a 30-year-old attempted kidnapping. It was such an easy book to sink into, and a story that left me feeling very hopeful even though the ending was by no means neat and never took any easy ways out. I inhaled it in one sitting, because the story was compelling and the writing was lovely.
But, having said all of that - not quite sure why it was longlisted for the Booker. I really liked this book, I really liked the story and the characters and I enjoyed the process of reading it, but it didn't raise any of the questions that the Booker nominees usually do, and the structure was interesting without being original or mind-blowing.
So, there you have it - a book that I absolutely loved, and am very glad it got put on my radar, but I think another book might have been better placed to make that longlist.
Who says I'm not capable of contradictory positive feelings?