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3.46  ·  Rating details ·  832 ratings  ·  112 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 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
Mar 20, 2012 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
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.
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 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.
Kay Bambury
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
A little depressing with a disappointing finish
Ian Young
Jan 29, 2012 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
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
Joyce Hendricks McCague
I did not like this book. I found it very dry and boring. I almost gave it one star but decided to go with two because there were a few chapters here and there that held my interest. I found myself at first skipping sentences, and then glossing over paragraphs because in my opinion, there was more description than dialogue and the description was overdone and much of it unnecessary. Without giving anything away, I would have preferred the tragedy take place earlier in the book and have more stor ...more
Genevieve NZ
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
The initial introductory chapter depicting Tom & Mark after the tragedy was a weird place for the book to start. I didn't really understand why the author decided to do that as it didn't enhance the story at all.

The plot within the story itself was believable, and the characters could be identified with, especially the troubled & frustrating relationship Mark has with his parents.

I liked Mark, and his naievity was constant throughout the book, giving him a beautiful innocence. Often I
May 27, 2018 added it
“Solace” should probably be titled “Lack of Solace.” Even in the face of unspeakable tragedy, the main characters, father and son, neither give solace nor get it. These characters are unlikeable, neglecting others and living mostly inside their own heads, and the pivotal scene is out of everyone’s control, making it seem contrived. And yet, I enjoyed the book. The author writes compellingly without trying too hard, the family dynamics seem plausible and at times even familiar, and both the urban ...more
Marc Faoite
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I picked this up and put it down so many times. Somehow, try as I might, I just couldn't get into this book. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood, or the right life. I have to confess I abandoned it barely half read, unable to face picking it up again.
Lisa de Jong
Jul 29, 2013 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
Jul 13, 2016 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
Oct 05, 2012 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 02, 2011 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 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 13, 2013 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 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...
Nov 20, 2011 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.
Peter Boyle
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Solace is a tender and compelling story from a supremely gifted writer. An convincing, poetic depiction of rural Ireland that sits well in the company of John McGahern and Patrick McCabe.
Sonia Howell
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Didn't love it.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished this one & overall, I really liked it.
Having read some of the criticisms in other reviews here - under-developed characters / plot-lines, Mark as unlikable etc.. - I suspect a larger knowledge of the technicalities of constructing a story exists among readers here, than I myself possess (I simply love reading), so I base my rating of this debut on my general feeling for the novel and though I do admit some few moments of disappointment, these were minute and did not affect
Mary Crawford
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Three and and a half stars. This novel of family relationships, rural versus urban, tradegy and life in Ireland has some great chapters but a few story lines that did not go anywhere and left me wondering why they were included. The rural descriptions were really good as was the development of Mark and Joanne's relationship. Mark's parents relationship was also really important in the story.
Jennifer Garner
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is beautifully written, you know because reading it you feel the heaviness and sadness. That said, I didn't finish reading it. It is a slog. The author came to Irish evening, thus this book was on our list. I am told that it is like all Irish writing, just depressing. Still there are characters and a story that is memorable, even if I didn't finish the book.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sad. True. Irish.
Bonnie Brody
Feb 28, 2012 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
Jan 09, 2012 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
Jan 21, 2016 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
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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
  • The Cold Eye of Heaven
  • The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty
  • All Will Be Well: A Memoir
  • 44: Dublin Made Me
  • Molly Fox's Birthday
  • Shadows on our Skin
  • Mothers and Sons
  • The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
  • Strumpet City
  • On an Irish Island
  • The Hard Life
  • Ancient Light
  • Grace Notes
  • Walk the Blue Fields: Stories
  • The Forgotten Waltz
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 playwri
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