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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller
Longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize
Named a Best Book of the Year by
The Globe and Mail, CBC Books, and The Daily Telegraph

"I've been telling everyone I know about Mary Lawso.... Each of her novels is just a marvel" (Anne Tyler)

New York Times best-selling author Mary Lawson, acclaimed for digging into the "wilderness of the human heart", is back after almost a decade with a fresh and timely novel that is different in subject but just as emotional and atmospheric as her beloved earlier work.

A Town Called Solace, the brilliant and emotionally radiant new novel from Mary Lawson, her first in nearly a decade, opens on a family in crisis. Sixteen-year-old Rose is missing. Angry and rebellious, she had a row with her mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. Left behind is seven-year-old Clara, Rose’s adoring little sister. Isolated by her parents’ efforts to protect her from the truth, Clara is bewildered and distraught. Her sole comfort is Moses, the cat next door, whom she is looking after for his elderly owner, Mrs. Orchard, who went into hospital weeks ago and has still not returned. 

Enter Liam Kane, mid-thirties, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, who moves into Mrs. Orchard’s house - where, in Clara’s view, he emphatically does not belong. Within a matter of hours he receives a visit from the police. It seems he is suspected of a crime.

At the end of her life, Elizabeth Orchard is also thinking about a crime, one committed thirty years previously that had tragic consequences for two families, and in particular for one small child. She desperately wants to make amends before she dies. 

Told through three distinct, compelling points of view, the novel cuts back and forth among these unforgettable characters to uncover the layers of grief, remorse, and love that connect them. A Town Called Solace is a masterful, suspenseful, darkly funny and deeply humane novel by one of our great storytellers.

©2021 Mary Lawson (P)2021 Penguin Random House Canada

Critic Reviews

National best seller

Longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize

A Globe and Mail Best Book

A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year

“This deftly-structured novel draws together the stories of three people at three different stages in life, each of whom is grappling with loss. We were captivated by A Town Called Solace’s beautifully paced, compassionate, sometimes wry examination of small-town lives.” (2021 Booker Prize Judges) 

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

“A lovely, gentle novel with edge.” (Saga (UK))  

What listeners say about A Town Called Solace

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beautiful story

I listened to the audio of “A Town Called Solace” by Mary Lawson. This is a slow burn of a story, culminating into a satisfying suspenseful drama. The narrators, Maggie Huculak, Tajja Isen, and Ian Lake are fantastic.

The story is told from three-character points of view. Clara, 7 years old, is a dutiful cat sitter who begins the story staring out her front window, watching her neighbor, Mrs. Orchard’s, home. Clara’s teenage sister Rose has just ran away, and Clara feels that she needs to keep her vigilance of the neighbor’s home to assure Rose’s safe return.

Mrs. Orchard, aka Elizabeth, is in the hospital with a heart condition. Her narrations are thoughts to her deceased husband. Through Elizabeth, we learn why she left her home to Liam, the third character. We also learn of Elizabeth’s past and what she feels she needed to atone for.

Liam is a character who the reader can’t help but feel sympathetic towards. His life, especially his youthful homelife is tragic. He most certainly received the worst mother possible. He isn’t sure why Mrs. Orchard left him her home, but we find out through Elizabeth’s chapters.

Clara is the needed innocent in the story, providing some humor through her earnest antics. She takes watching Mrs. Orchard’s home very seriously. Other minor characters add to the amusement, although quiet amusement. Lawson deftly adds those moments to what could have been a fully maudlin and tragic story. My heart broke many times for both Liam and Elizabeth. Clara provided hope.

The characters in this story are realistic and human. At the beginning of the story, I thought it was an average read. In the middle, I was dumbstruck in my emotional attachment. At the end, I wanted to take another look and review how the story began and edged its way into my heart.

Author Mary Lawson is noted for writing emotionally moving stories taking place in her beloved Canada. This is one that will stick with me. Another shout-out to Goodreads friend Holly who gave this a stellar review which drew my interest.

6 people found this helpful

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Andrea S.

Fairly short book. Performance was great. You could really picture the story because of the different narrators. The ending of the book felt a little abrupt but an interesting story despite that.

2 people found this helpful

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Great story!



Great story. Strong character. Perfect audio. Recommend this book and crow lake. good narrative structure

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing CanLit

CanLit can so often few dreary. While I wouldn’t call this book “light,” in the beach read sense of the word, it is airy. It’s easy to read because I wanted to find out what happened next in this tiny little world, but the characters were serious and well drawn. It follows the plight of a missing girl while avoiding all the tropes of “missing girl unreliable narrator” stories. It reminded me of the very best of Carol Shields. I loved it.

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So good!

I’m sad I’ve finished this book. Very Mary Lawson, very Northern Ontario, real people, down to earth simple yet compelling story!! I can’t wait for her next novel. Excellent narration.

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Lovely. Beautiful writing.

I love a good story, and have noticed in a lot of best sellers how most of the writing lacks artistry and subtlety. This book is so beautifully written, so elegant and thoughtful. It isnt trying to tell us what to think, or how to feel, which is a breath of fresh air. I read/listen to 2-3 books a week and share almost none with my reader pals. I will share this one.

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Moving and Satisfying

Mary Lawson quietly draws you into the lives and connections of seven-year-old Clara, her elderly neighbor Mrs. Orchard, and thirty-something Liam, a newcomer to Solace, their small town in northern Ontario. As with all of her novels, you feel a sense of not just the people but the place and, like Liam, may have trouble leaving.

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Young person’s book?

I seem to have mistaken this for an adult novel but it is quite juvenile. I will have to look more carefully at the clues in the future.

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Wonderful reflection on life

Loved the story and enjoyed Mrs Orchards life reflections- I found the voice performance of the Clara character irritating - other than the voice given to the one character- the book was wonderful.

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Interesting

An easy book I listened to while on the way to and from visiting my daughter at college. I enjoyed it.