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3.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  663 Ratings  ·  95 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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Barry Pierce
Oct 11, 2015 Barry Pierce rated it liked it
Irish writers do melancholy best. We are a nation of Jaques' from As You Like It. Belinda McKeon tells a story which strangely parallels mine. We have Mark, a young guy who grew up in the Irish countryside, who decides to go to university the city to study English. However Mark's life is full of major setbacks that he must somehow overcome throughout the novel.

McKeon is a natural. Her ability to capture her character's voices is superb and this leads to one of the sweariest opening chapters to
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
Apr 07, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok
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
Aug 22, 2011 T P Kennedy rated it liked it
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
Jan 29, 2012 Ian Young rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2016 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Didn’t like this quite as much as Tender even though the plot probably resonated more (Mark feeling the weight of his father’s expectations regarding the farm when he wants to pursue a life of academia removed from those obligations). She frames it in such a way that (view spoiler) ...more
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.
Having moved to Dublin, Mark is still writing his thesis as he approaches 30. Most of the time he is able to resist the demands of the family farm in Longford, but there are many weekends he must return to bale hay, test animals and deal with his father's resentment of his urban life. Joanne has also escaped to the capital, to become a trainee solicitor, away from the neglect and hostility of her family. Mark and Joanne fall in love as the Celtic Tiger begins to whimper, and the country around t ...more
Kay Bambury
Jan 07, 2013 Kay Bambury rated it it was ok
A little depressing with a disappointing finish
Oct 30, 2012 Danielle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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?

Sep 26, 2011 Iuliana rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
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
Apr 14, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
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
Jul 03, 2014 Terri rated it liked it
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
Dec 15, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing
I'll admit this: the only reason I picked up this book was to check one of my Popsugar reading challenge boxes. The prompt was "A book set in your hometown" - I live in a small village in Co. Longford, Ireland, so the chances of me finding something set here was slim. I stumbled upon this when searching, and I already had Belinda's second novel Tender on my reading list after a recommendation from a friend, so I gave this a go.

Solace gives us a look at the life of Mark, a young man from outside
Nov 20, 2011 Terri rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 13, 2013 Trena rated it really liked it
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 .
Apr 15, 2014 Miriam rated it really liked it
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...
Jane Jennings
The novel is well-written. The dialogue and characterisation are impressive, particularly in relation to the main characters of Tom and his son Mark. However I do agree with other reviewers who felt that some of the descriptive passages were overly long and detailed e.g both in relation to the PhD thesis and the court case. I found it a difficult novel to warm to and was never gripped by it. The storyline is unrelentingly bleak with little humour or light relief. None of the main characters are ...more
Sonia Howell
Feb 11, 2013 Sonia Howell rated it liked it
Didn't love it.
Aug 12, 2016 Noll rated it it was amazing
Oh, this book. This book was beautiful. I bought it months ago, to represent Longford in my Irish Counties Challenge, but for some reason it took me until now to get around to reading it. I even started it, once, around the time of purchase, and then put it back down. Perhaps I was waiting until I was in the right frame of mind. This is a subdued, almost melancholic extract from the intersection of several familial lives - primarily between farmer Tom Casey and his PhD student son Mark. It uses ...more
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
Feb 28, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it really liked it
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
Sep 18, 2013 Lisa de Jong rated it really liked it
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
Oct 05, 2011 Kevin rated it liked it
Shelves: group-reads
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
Jun 15, 2011 Eleni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2012 Marleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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  
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Belinda McKeon’s debut novel Solace won the 2011 Faber Prize and was voted Irish Book of the Year, as well as being shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her second novel, Tender, will be published in the US by Lee Boudreaux Books in February 2016. Her essays and journalism have appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review, the Guardian, A Public Space and elsewhere. As a playwr ...more
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