Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Solace, Belinda McKeon

Belinda McKeon
New Irish writing.  Perhaps. This is Belinda McKeon, who wrote Solace, a beautiful and affecting first novel (she has written plays).  It is about grief, and separation, and the failure of two generations to understand each other or to give each other comfort (solace) at a time of grief.  It's about Ireland too, set in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, just as boom turns to bust.  I haven't been able to do much else but read it for the past few days. Oddly, I read it straight after finishing "Lionel Asbo" by Martin Amis, which is about England.  Both books feature a failure of family members who love each other to communicate, a baby girl, and a Terrible Thing that happens.  Though there the resemblance ends.  I suppose, as plots go, it is as much star-crossed lovers as anything.  It is also the leaving of the land for the city, and the old for the new.  But no-one in the book is a cliche.  And for those like me who are not Irish and who have scarcely been there or been much around Irish people, it was like having a bath in the language.  This book took me in, shook me up and dumped me down again, slightly tearful and a little more Irish than I was.  Read it.


adele said...

Couldn't agree more!

Anonymous said...

I will. And I would also recommend a brilliant book that I'm readiog at the moment, called Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins. Also about a horrible, horrible thing. Re-released from its 1934 publication date by Persephone and with an afterword by the fab Rachel Cooke.


Jonny said...

I thought it was about the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

Anonymous said...

Is it relevant that the Irish Gaelic word "solas" means (among other things) light? In any case, you've made me want to read the book (not for the first time).