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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  558 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Mark Casey has left home, the rural Irish community where his family has farmed the same land for generations, to study for a doctorate in Dublin, a vibrant, contemporary city full of possibility. To his father, Tom, who needs help baling the hay and ploughing the fields, Mark's pursuit isn't work at all, and indeed Mark finds himself whiling away his time with pubs and pa ...more
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published August 5th 2011 by Picador (first published 2011)
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There were some very beautiful passages in this first novel set in modern-day Ireland and which tells a story of inter-generational conflict and inter-family rivalry.
The rural scenes worked best for me and I wanted more of those.
I liked the sub-plot about the eighteenth century author, Maria Edgeworth and was eager for it to be woven more satisfyingly into the main plot.
Here are some passages, which give an idea of the promise in Belinda McKeon’s writing:

“But, then, just as quickly, they loo
I must admit that I feel a bit duped by the hype for this novel. It was nominated for the Orange Prize (UK award for best novel by female author written in English), and it received such glowing reviews from Colm Toibin and Ann Enright (The Gathering is wonderful), that I was convinced that this one would sing to my soul. Good job by Scribner marketing, I guess.

I did enjoy the novel to a certain extent. Tom Casey is a wonderful, well drawn character, and the scenes on the farm are vivid and poi
Solace, the debut novel from Irish poet and playwright Belinda McKeon, which has been getting a lot of attention lately, is a family drama, or more precisely, an exploration of the bonds and difficulties that exist between a father and a son. We initially encounter this particular father and son in a prologue that is really taken, not from the beginning of the book, but from its middle, a choice that’s partly good, and partly not-so-good.

The father is Tom Casey, a taciturn, hard-bitten, hard-wor
T P Kennedy
An interesting work. I'm not sure that it lives up to the billing and the hype surrounding it. Some of the characterization is excellent - particularly Tom Casey. The book really comes alive when he's around. Other characters, though, seem to be mere ciphers to play a specific plot role. The sense of Dublin and students is good. The evocation of tragedy and the sense of solace are excellent but a little marred by various melodramas.
Ian Young
Solace is a novel about loss and the difficulty which so many people have communicating about important issues, particularly across generations. It is set against the background of Ireland in the early part of this century, at a time when rural areas continued to cling to traditional values and ways of life while brash modern Ireland epitomised by the Dublin property boom gradually began to impinge.

Mark Casey is a PhD student in Dublin, struggling with his thesis after losing enthusiasm for his
Very disappointing. Mark Casey is a selfish and unlikeable character. I felt the story skimmed over parts were I would have liked more detail, such as Mark & Joannes relationship and then gave too much detail on other parts like Marks thesis which I didn't find interesting at all and once I had finished the book I didn't see the relevance of it all.
Kay Bambury
A little depressing with a disappointing finish
The book deals with the interplay between the generations, between town and country people and a simpler older world and the new world.

Well written, the characters and well developed and interesting. Mark's indecision about so many aspects of his life set against the simplicity of views from both his parents work well. His relationship with Joanne who is training to be a solicitor is beautifully covered. However, as is inevitable, things change and "accidents" happen - can any solace be found?

This is a very easy book to read and i really enjoyed the first half of the book. I liked the characters of Tom and Mark, but didn't care much for Joanne. I found the wrong parts of the story were developed, i.e. Joanne's case, Mark's thesis as well as the story around Joanne's former lecturer. I found these didn't serve as much purpose as possibly intended, and i found myself wanting to skip through to the parts where something actually happens.

I found the ending weak and I was annoyed at times
I had this book on my bookshelf for a couple of years before I got around to reading it. It's a story about a young man's relationship with his father and about his duties to his parents and their farm which they need some help with. Mark Casey is in Dublin doing his PhD which started off well and is now going disastrously. His father doesn't expect him to take over the farm but he would like some help with it. Mark begrudgingly spares the odd weekend and gets stuck in to the work and then promi ...more
Didn't like it much. The review for the book says the father and son were brought together through tragedy. I didn't see that they came together that much. It is a "relationship" book. Not really my genre either, not one I would have picked, I read it for a book club. If you like relational books with no real plot...that's all I'll might like this book.
This book was very interesting to me as I knew the places in it.unusual as its a small one street town in rural Ireland . The story was beautifully written and identifies strong emotions on many levels which an translate across all nations. I don't think you have to be Irish to get The city v country the generational/cultural context of this book .
I really enjoyed this.I am 16 and wanted to try a book for the older as I enjoy them more. Once I got into it, I tried to read at every chance I got. McKeon is incredible at recognising small details of human expressions. Some might say it is slow-paced, but I felt the gradual build of the plot was done well. I loved the characters- even though there were quite a lot! The ending was a little sudden, there could have been at least another chapter added to conclude everything. Thus, this book rece ...more
Sonia Howell
Didn't love it.
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
Mark Casey has gone from one way of life with his parents on their farm in rural Ireland, to the city life of Dublin, where he is an academic. He teaches part-time at Trinity and is working on his PhD about a writer, Maria Edgeworth, who came from the same area of Ireland as him. He visits his parents on occasional weekends and helps his father with the tasks on the farm. They have a difficult relationship; Mark knows that his father doesn’t understand the nature or point of his academic studies ...more
Her Royal Orangeness
You know those days when it rains and rains, unrelenting, making you feel miserable and bereft, making you forget that there is such a thing as sunshine and hope? That is the mood of “Solace.” Quiet. Grey. Melancholy.

“Solace” is Mark’s story. His struggles with his doctoral thesis. His struggles with his father and the responsibility he feels to help with his father’s farm. His relationship with a woman named Joanne. And when a tragedy occurs, it is about the darkness of Mark’s grief.

Bonnie Brody
Solace, by Belinda McKeon, is a novel about love and longing. As a noun, `solace' means to find comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness. As a verb, it means to give solace to someone else or oneself. This book is about people who find solace in the small things of this world and find it difficult to talk about the bigger things. They hang on to what they know, especially when they face tragedy or their worlds turn upside down.

Tom and Mark are father and son. Tom works his farm in
Lisa de Jong
I purchased this book for selfish reasons. A friend recommended it to me adding that my short story reminded him of it. I did not want to reciprocate any love; I just wanted to study it. And there I was with a fine-toothed comb ready to underline dialogue technique, similes and character developments – and that I did, that I did. What I did not expect was to obliviously fall into the trap of becoming emotionally involved with this story, like slowly being sucked back in by an ex – something only ...more
It was ok. Nice story, but generally not my genre. I was more interested in Mark and his father as opposed to Mark and Joanne. This was possibly because the story itself began with Mark and Tom, so everyone else served no interest in me.

The story itself is beautiful, and was pretty much easy to read once you get into it (the key being 'getting into it')

The characters seemed real to me. In fact, I could easily visualise the characters, and relate with them. And I love how the story switches my im
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog:

This is the story of a generational and cultural divide between a father and his son. It is also the tale of a binding tragedy and the gulf of loneliness between them in today's Ireland, slowly sinking into poverty and hardship.

Tom is a farmer, married to Maura, a nurse. They have two grown children, Nuala, who is married and lives far enough off that her family rarely sees her, and Tom, who lives in Dublin, a perpetu
I had the privilege of reading some of this in workshop while I was getting my MFA at Columbia and I was so impressed by the writing then that I had to pre-order it before it came out. The characters are real and complex, flawed but sympathetic, but it's the overall voice that sweeps you up and carries you along. I am an emotional wimp under any circumstances and since I've been pregnant have been even more sensitive about not reading/watching/hearing things that might upset me. (The movie "Brid ...more
A debut novel of love and loss set in contemporary Ireland, where a family’s troubled past cast its shadow over an uncertain future.

Looking for a distraction from writing his stalled thesis, Mark Casey falls for a green-eyed girl he meets at a pub. Joanne Lynch, however, is more than a pretty solicitor trainee, she comes from the same patch of rural farmland in County Longford where Mark grew up. The son of a demanding and truculent farmer, Mark resents the time he must take away from his studi
Mark Casey is a doctoral student in Dublin, struggling to find any enthusiasm for the thesis he is supposed to be writing while also trying to balance his father’s demands for help on the Longford farm with his own needs. While the gap between Mark and his father appears to be getting wider, his mother tries to keep a fragile peace between the two men.
Joanne Lynch is a trainee solicitor and the daughter of a man Mark’s father has considered an enemy ever since he was wronged by him twenty years
Claire O'brien
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this novel. In one way, lots happens, but in another if feels like it's one of those books where not a lot happens. I cannot point to particular turns of phrase that I loved but the entire book just flowed so well, and whilst the ending wasn't perfect, I really enjoyed it, as did most of my book club.
This book probably deserves another star except that, not being Irish, I found the first third a bit hard on my knowledge of the different common words used by this Irish author. Yet, after a while I did get involve in the characters and their lives. Maybe I am changing because I really thought I liked happy endings yet this one could not be considered happy, just hopeful, and that seemed to fit the story. I loved the child's name, Aoife (pronounced ee-fah, on good Irish authority!). The author ...more
It's McKeon's sympathetic portrayal of the varying points of view of her characters that stays with me the most. Father and son, husband and wife, mother and son, mother and daughter and the young couple caught up too soon in parenthood and unexpected loss. There's such simple truth to the writing...
Mary Lou
Mark is trying to complete his thesis at Trinity in Dublin while being distracted by the 'good' student life, and at the time being emotionally blackmailed by his father to go down home at the weekends and help on the farm.

The novel studies the confrontational relationship between father and son, and the same time the developing relationship between Mark and a girl he meets at college who is from a small town near him.

The prologue is stunning- redolent of John McGahern, but the book does not pro
Caroline Thorley
Enjoyed this book - am not sure what U3A reading group will make of it as they are quite a bit older than me. They'll probably abandon it because of the F word usage at the start of book.

I wish books today wouldn't start with a scene from the end of the story - it means that you more or less know what happens - obviously you're interested to find out how that point is reached but it often reduces the impact of events. Blurb on inside cover spoils things too ".... until the lightning strike of tr
A fantastic and emotional portrait of contemporary Ireland, the struggles of growing up, finding and looking for love in both new and familiar places - a touching saga that encompasses all through a small lens.
Jennifer O'Connell
This is a lyrical, and occasionally heartbreaking, family drama. At its heart is the story of the love affair between two people who grew up a few miles apart but didn't meet until they went to college (as you do). Anyone who went to college in Dublin in the 90s or naughties will identify with so much of the story, and she creates that whole world - pints in the Pav, half-remembered house parties, agonising meetings with your tutor - really effectively. If I'm being picky there are few little is ...more
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Irish Readers: OCTOBER READ - Solace - Finished - May Contain Spoilers 9 24 Nov 28, 2011 01:06AM  
Irish Readers: OCTOBER READ - Solace - No Spoilers 9 23 Nov 02, 2011 05:08AM  
Irish Readers: Solace - An Introduction 6 15 Oct 13, 2011 12:45PM  
  • Ghost Light
  • Mistaken
  • Faith Healer
  • Ancient Light
  • The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty
  • Shadows on Our Skin
  • On an Irish Island
  • The Field
  • All Will Be Well: A Memoir
  • Molly Fox's Birthday
  • Walk the Blue Fields: Stories
  • The Plough and the Stars
  • The Spinning Heart
  • The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
  • Grace Notes
  • Two Pints
  • Strumpet City
  • The Journey Home
Belinda McKeon was born in Ireland in 1979 and grew up in Co. Longford.

She studied English and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin (BA) and University College, Dublin (MLitt), and has an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University.

Her debut novel, Solace, was published in 2011 by Scribner (US) and Picador (UK/Ireland/Australia) It was named a Kirkus Outstanding Debut of 2011 and was named Bord Gáis E
More about Belinda McKeon...
Tender A Kind of Compass

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