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3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  632 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
From the award-winning author of "Martin Sloane" and "Fidelity" comes a riveting story of two families in different centuries--one searching for the past, the other creating a record of it.
Kindle Edition, 482 pages
Published (first published August 29th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rebecca McNutt
May 05, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Consolation is a brilliantly-written Canadian novel about the rapidly changing world, and about the secrets we bury and the legacies we all leave behind. filled with the nostalgia of history and the sadness of the impending future and the past forgotten, this book is definitely one of my favorites and I highly recommend it.
Apr 25, 2009 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"He put it [a recently excavated clay pipe:] into my hand and closed my fingers over it and he said, ‘the past really happened.’”. . . “You held it in your hand. You know something most people don’t.”

(Consolation, 435)

Consolation changed the way I look at my Toronto, the city where I live. This was not only because it asked me to imagine things like black bears walking down King St. or a graveyard (in fact, a "necropolis") at the now busy intersection of Yonge and Bloor, which added a vivid, his
Mar 11, 2015 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must say I enjoyed this book 5 stars' worth, but that's because I've lived in and near Toronto since 1977. It's a good story, quite how true I'm not sure, of the search for some historical (1850s) photos of Toronto possibly buried in the landfill which has become Toronto south of Front Street, and which was previously Lake Ontario. There are two threads: 1850s and late 1990s.
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 10, 2010 Kirsty Darbyshire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
This was a really enjoyable read; a story of early Toronto (1850ish if I remember correctly) intertwined a story of another Toronto family in 1997. Each half of the story has a pretty similar weighting and I didn't mind switching between the two because it didn't happen too often and both halves were entertaining and written in similar styles.

The modern day story is woven around the death of David Hollis, a historical researcher, and the historical story meets up with his research in a way that'
Robert Colquhoun
Sep 16, 2011 Robert Colquhoun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this book without putting much time into reviewing it beforehand. When I actually picked it up to read and determined what it was about (ie. Toronto) I figured it would be boring and likely not worth my while. Once I started reading it, I initially confirmed my suspicions and almost put it down (in reality, I never do this). Am I glad I didn't! I loved the intermingling of the two stories; one from 1997 Toronto (where I happen to live) and one from 1856 historical Toronto. It became a ...more
Nov 22, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-authors
I live in Toronto. I love history and architecture. This book was an incredible read and eventually I found myself on a walking tour of the buildings and history with Michael Redhill.

There is so much development happening in the area of the waterfront where land was reclaimed now - I am sure many artifacts are found and some even hidden so the development goes on uninterrupted.

This novel was an eye-opener and very engaging. Loved it.
The Master
Feb 16, 2010 The Master rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took a long time getting through this book because I didn't want it to end. Redhill could have made it twice as long and I wouldn't have complained. Compelling characters and settings, especially the 1850s Toronto segments.

I really, really, loved this book. Redhill is one of my favourite Canadian authors.
Jason Pettus
Sep 27, 2007 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

As regular readers know, all this month I'm doing a special concentration here on the nominees for the 2007 Booker Prize, basically the British version of the Pulitzer (and a prize many think is actually more impressive than the Pulitzer); and it's no surprise that in general I've been disappointed by the nominated books I've now read, finding them on the whole to be too delicate, to
Mar 23, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Powell's Daily Dose
David Hollis spent his career unearthing artifacts of old Toronto, but at the time of his death from Lou Gehrig’s disease, his academic legacy was shadowed by his unsupported claims that a complete set of glass negatives of photos of Toronto, circa 1860, was lost in a shipwreck that now lies under landfill. However, the story doesn’t really deal with David except in flashback, as his wife, one of his daughters, and his daughter’s fiancé deal with his death by keeping vigil over a construction si ...more
Cathy Savage
This book was divided into two time frames - Toronto of the 1850's and of the 1990's. I enjoyed the story from the 1850's more than that of the 1990's. I could not really get more than a limited understanding of what was happening in the 1990's possibly because characters were presented as complete and did not really develop much. The interplay between John and Marianne while watching the construction site seemed fraught with a lot of unexplained angst. The story with J. Hallam, Sam Ennis and Cl ...more
Aug 10, 2012 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by Michael Redhill that I have read (although, Martin Sloane is on the book shelf ready to go) and it was really enjoyable. At first I found it difficult to get into; there is a parallel story-line that you need to navigate, which made it difficult to get into the rhythm of the story. However, once I found my feet I thought Redhill delivered a well narrated tale with a smart plot.
Being a history lover, I found myself drawn to the historical story-line and I was pleasantly
Jun 10, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Nice read"

Consolation, the book that is being promoted in the event of "keep Toronto reading one book". I started reading it wanting to have a glimpse of the Toronto a hundred years back in time. More than not being disappointed, I think there are some hidden gems in this book. Two stories paralleled in this novel: one told the struggle of a family coming to terms with the loss of an important family member; one told the adventure of an Englishman who left his whole family and started his unexp
Aug 21, 2007 Mary-anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nina
It took me about 200 pages to get into this book. But then I enjoyed it very much. I must say that I thought the historical story was far more interesting than the present day one. I found Marianne and Bridget really annoying and their actions and words extreme. Considering that Redhill is a playwrigt, you would think that dialogue would be a strong point, but I found it to be trite. I liked the character John Lewis very much and especially enjoyed the relationship he had with David.

The history
Marilyn Fraser
I am almost finished reading 'Consolation' by Redhill. It is not the greatest book I've read. I'm feeling, "oh, get on with it" to get to the end. The history of Toronto is interesting but the story is written like two stories in several different sections: story 1, story 2, story 1, story 2 etc. I find it a little exasperating?

The part I found interesting was the history sections on Toronto. I could visualize the streets and intersections he refers to because I know Toronto. I could relate to t
Dec 06, 2007 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana, fiction, 2007
From The Atlantic review

by Michael Redhill (Little, Brown)

Lou Gehrig’s disease again! In this case, a local historian, suffering from the malady, posits, to public ridicule, that a trove of photographs of early Toronto lies beneath a landfill. Redhill, author of the affecting short-story collection Fidelity, shifts between the present-day account of the widow’s efforts to vindicate her husband and the story of the photographer in mid-nineteenth-century Toronto. Puzzlingly, the modern
Oct 08, 2012 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book with two story lines, one set in present-day Toronto (well, just a few years ago) and one set in 1850s, the very early days of the city. As you can imagine, they are intertwined, and I must admit I found myself far more fascinated by the 1850 plot than the current day one. The fact that it's set in in Toronto was a bonus, but by no means do you need to know the city or have a particular interest in it, to enjoy the book. If you enjoy historical novels which detail the lives of ord ...more
Thuraya Batterjee
Apr 19, 2008 Thuraya Batterjee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
i can't really tell if it has anything to do with being in Toronto these days or.. it's simply a good novel..?
i like all the details about the photography profession and the actual names of streets and shops
it's specially exiting when I walk by one of them!!
what I mostly like about this book is the author's smooth way of jumping through time.
i'll have to agree with those who favor the historical story over the resent one
but all in all, I think it's a good vacation read
Ann-Marie Metten
Just flew back from Toronto with a copy of Michael Redhill’s Consolation and was so absorbed that I’m now halfway through its 468 pages in only six hours (the flight plus couldn’t-put-it-down reading time in the hammock later that evening). I’d always felt I wouldn’t connect with Redhill’s Toronto-centric point of view but he casts tough, straight-spoken women and men with much softer personalities – characters and action that pulled ME into the historical storyline.
Kristine Morris
A very engaging book. I enjoyed it tremendously. Loved the descriptions of the lives of strugging Torontonians in the 1850's. John and Bridget and the way their relationship evolved both in the present and past tense, somehow evoked my own memories (in love during those same years and living in Toronto). And I thought the way the two stories were linked together was very well done. As a lover of Toronto history this book is hard not to cherish page by page.
Aug 28, 2007 Gemma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
It is really 3.5 stars for this one, but since it didn't get from the Booker longlist to the shortlist I am being generous. This is the kind of book I take pleasure in - a real story, with emphasis on plot and characters in contrast to, for example, Enright's "The Gathering" and McEwan's "On Chesil Beach" which are less plot driven (although they have fared better in the Booker).

I think the fact that I have just been to Toronto aided my enjoyment.

Perhaps a little slow in parts.
Irene Dreger
Apr 24, 2016 Irene Dreger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book mesmerizing in it's history of Toronto. The author's use of different time periods brings the past to life. I knew it was hard for the early settlers but I hadn't realized how it could change who they were when they arrived. Such a well written novel!
Jan 08, 2015 JoAnne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the familiarity of the setting, and the proximity to my neighborhood growing up, but not the story itself.
Jun 28, 2016 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and unexpected read. Beautifully written, two great stories interwoven, in and about Toronto, believe it or not. Just simply a real pleasure to read.
Aug 05, 2015 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was torn on this one. Really liked the characters and scenes that took place in 1800s Toronto, but didn't really connect with the characters and events in present-day Toronto.
read while in jail. Actual rating: 1.9
Doug Blair
Aug 23, 2014 Doug Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing mystery against Toronto backdrop.
Jun 29, 2013 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at a library book sale. In other words, there wasn't a whole lot of investment on my part ($2 maybe?) and I didn't expect a whole lot.

I found it interesting, but generally not compelling, and couldn't help but think it was written with people in mind who were quite familiar with Toronto. There are really two stories to "Consolation". The first, and I think more interesting one, takes place in the city's early days as it was being settled. Given the harsh weather and challe
Jul 30, 2012 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm an historical novel fan because I want to see how an author weaves a personal story into events that actually occurred. Are the protagonists real people who might have been part of the story or are they entirely fabricated. In this case I think it's the latter since they're current day people.. but hey, maybe there was a family connected to someone who was gathing data about the early Toronto photographer Hallam. Is he for real? The setting, an excavation for another high rise near the water ...more
Dec 11, 2007 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was up in Stratford, Canada this summer everyone was really excited about the news that this book had been named to the Booker Prize longlist. The strongest aspect of this novel is its treatment of the city of Toronto as its own character, both as a wild youth and old man quickly losing his way in the fast pace of the modern world.

After reading The Gathering, this year's Booker Prize winner, I'm really disappointed that Consolation didn't get a bit more love from the Booker folks.
Stephen Wong
Aug 10, 2011 Stephen Wong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth the dig. The last five words given by Jem Hallam to Claudia Rowe may have been given just as well to the city. There is plot and enough texture and character to drive an Atom Egoyan film. Would he of Summerhill? The arc of history captured in photography a city claimed from lake and hewn from forest and the fortunes of arrivals. You have to walk Toronto streets a while to realise they belong here as much as you do.
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Aka Inger Ash Wolfe.

Michael Redhill is an American-born Canadian poet, playwright and novelist.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Redhill was raised in the metropolitan Toronto, Ontario area. He pursued one year of study at Indiana University, and then returned to Canada, completing his education at York University and the University of Toronto. He was on the editorial board of Coach House Press from 19
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