'A sparely written book of huge emotional power... Solace brings alive the rural experience and the conflicting values of contemporary Ireland, but is also a richly compelling love story' --Sunday Independent
`Compelling... A profound and exacting conjuration with the psycho-social shifts taking place in contemporary Ireland... The poetic sinuousness of McKeon's style deftly insinuates the reader into the emotional worlds of her characters which are outlined with unflinching clarity and a winning compassion. Solace , in sum, is an assured and poised debut, at once a moving and gracefully etched story of human loss and interconnection set in contemporary Ireland and a deeply affecting meditation on being in the world' --Irish Times
`A fine example of the modern Irish novel... An irrepressible power runs through the finely crafted text... The writing, transitions and branching narratives are honed to a fine point... This is a beautifully small story that loses none of its intimacy by encompassing the breadth of a country and acknowledging an entire generation' --Sunday Times Ireland
`The juxtaposition of urban and rural Ireland is very effective... A compelling story of how the adult family unit renegotiates itself. There is no denying McKeon's talent' --Irish Independent
`It's difficult to imagine a novel being more permeated by the preoccupations of Irish culture and more conscious of its location within an Irish literary tradition than Belinda McKeon's debut. Solace is about a lot of things - love, grief, parenthood, friendship, the struggles for self-definition and intellectual autonomy - but at its core is a theme that has animated many of this country's most enduring fictions: the endlessly problematic relationship between older and younger generations... Eloquent precision is everywhere in the novel... McKeon has obviously learned a great deal from the likes of McGahern and Colm Tóibín, but she has taken the lessons of these masters and constructed something that, though it may not be entirely new, is very much her own'
--Sunday Business Post
`Accomplished... Thoughtful and intelligent... A work steeped in verisimilitude, whose integrity is palpable and its concerns clear-cut'
--Times Literary Supplement
'[A] beautiful first novel... A remarkable new voice' --The Times
'An excellent musing on families and relationships... Ms McKeon's real strength lies in portraying the slow burn of kinship... She hooks the reader with words unsaid; stolen glances; simmering anger - which hold the heaviness of a lifetime of buried emotion, but also of unconditional love... Solace is a warm and wise debut from a new literary talent' --Economist
'Belinda McKeon has already established herself as a playwright and arts journalist in both Ireland and America, and now her anticipated first novel arrives complete with endorsements from some of the great figures of Irish letters. Solace does not disappoint, and in it we feel a young writer carefully negotiating her relationship to her native Ireland and to its literary traditions... She writes with a precision that is moving without being sentimental. She is superb on the inarticulate coming-to-terms between a father and his son. Patient to a fault, this author demands patience from her reader, but it is the kind of patience that is worth cultivating' --Sunday Times
'Intensely controlled, [a] fine first novel' --Guardian
'Accomplished... Thoughtful and intelligent... A work steeped in verisimilitude, whose integrity is palpable and its concerns clear-cut'
--Times Literary Supplement
`McKeon keeps all the plates spinning, plotting in perfectly timed cliffhangers... and draws you into the lives of the Caseys and the Lynches with grace. Her prose style is simple to the point of plain yet it illuminates her characters with the intensity of a searchlight... [But] it is not the plot that interests her, or us, but the truth of the characters. .. Solace is impossible to put down' --Sunday Herald
`A compelling story... There is no denying McKeon's talent' --Belfast Telegraph
'Few Irish debuts have been as praised as Belinda McKeon's Solace and, given her assured prose and unsentimental yet empathetic storytelling, it's little wonder... McKeon's carefully calibrated prose never wavers and her ear for dialogue is unerring, perhaps because she's as attuned to what her characters are unable to say as to what they are. She is as sure-footed writing about a young urban milieu as she is an older rural one and when tragedy strikes her resolve doesn't crack. The eviscerating effects of grief are dealt with in clear-eyed fashion. Tentative, tender and effortlessly moving' --Metro (4-star review)
'It's a brave writer who slams the brakes on hard halfway through a story and takes it in a shockingly different direction. But Belinda McKeon has the courage and pulls it off magnificently. So the second half of the book is a heartbreaking account of Mark's struggle to survive the appalling tragedy he could never have known was lying in wait for him' --Daily Mail
'Elegant and assured... In spare, measured prose McKeon deftly explores the process of grief... Solace is a gentle, haunting meditation on the bonds of family and, ultimately, what it means to love'
--Sunday Express (4-star review)
'Subtle... [a] gallant new flag for the Irish novel' --Sebastian Barry, Guardian
`A really enjoyable debut novel' --Joseph O'Connor, Sunday Herald
`Impressive... The story is told coolly and obliquely but there's a powerful rawness at its heart' --Irish Independent
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, Marks pursuit isnt work at all, and indeed 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. Joanne too has a past to escape from and for a brief time she and Mark share the chaos and rapture of a new love affair, until the lightning strike of tragedy changes everything. Solace is a work to be admired for its spare, intense lyricism, its range, and its deeply compassionate portrayal of life as it is lived now. An elegant, consuming and richly inspired novel. A superb debut. This one will last Colum McCann A novel of quiet power, filled with moments of carefully-told truth . . . this book will appeal to readers both young and old Colm Tóibín A story of clear-eyed compassion and quiet intelligence Anne Enright