Mark Casey has left home, the rural Irish community where his family has farmed the same land for generations. He is a doctoral student in Dublin, a vibrant, contemporary city full of possibility. But to his father, Tom, who needs help baling the hay and ploughing the fields, Mark’s pursuit isn’t work at all, and they are set on a collision course, while Mark’s mother negotiates a fragile peace.
To escape the seemingly endless struggle of completing his thesis, Mark finds himself whiling away his time with pubs and parties. His is a life without focus or responsibility, until he meets Joanne Lynch, a trainee solicitor whom he finds irresistible – and who he later discovers happens to be the daughter of a man who once spectacularly wronged his father.
Joanne too has escaped the life circumscribed by her overbearing father, and she is torn between the opportunities to succeed in this new wealthy Dublin and the moral dilemmas it presents. But for a brief time Mark and Joanne are able to share the chaos and rapture of a love affair, an emotional calm, until the lightning strike of tragedy changes everything.
SOLACE is a breathtaking story of love that doesn’t shy away from its messy beginnings and unanticipated consequences; of fragile familial relationships irrevocably altered by a single moment of searing tragedy; and of the ability each of us has to rise to life’s greatest challenge – unforeseen change.
Fresh, sensitive and genuinely brave, Belinda McKeon is a startling new talent in the great Irish mould, and SOLACE is a work to be admired equally for its spare, intense lyricism as its range, understanding, and deeply compassionate portrayal of life as it is lived now.
'[This] is a novel of quiet power, filled with moments of carefully-told truth. It deals with the most contemporary of dramas -- that between the young and carefree in the modern city of quick texts and fast taxis and their parents who live in a traditional world, a place of old and abiding values. The fascination and originality of the novel stems from how Belinda McKeon makes this an ambiguous drama about love and longing, rather than a story of pure opposition or conflict. She demonstrates a real wisdom in this book which will appeal to readers both young and old and a command of style and structure which will make this a much-loved and a treasured book by readers everywhere.' - Colm Tóibín
'A story told with clear-eyed compassion and quiet intelligence about what it is to grow up and grow away, about the difference between ‘here’ and ‘home’. SOLACE lives up to its title: this is a lovely debut' - Anne Enright
'Solace is an elegant, consuming and richly inspired novel. Like all good stories, it's a love story. It just so happens that it's also lovingly told. A superb debut. This one will last ....' - Colm McCann