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September 18, 2013 / ldejong4


A review of the novel Solace by Belinda McKeon, 2011.

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 stellar novels achieve of the self-proclaimed strong and independent woman that I am.

Solace is the modern day story of a young Irish couple who are trying to find their paths in life. Both raised in the country, they meet in Dublin, become “no strings attached” romantically involved and then life decides to have its ways with them. It looks at interesting themes like contemporary Irish dating protocol, the difficulties of establishing a career, high prices of the city, keeping distance from parents and many more adults encounter in their 20s and 30s.

Truthfully speaking, it’s a slow moving novel and incredibly descriptive for which I can be a bit impatient at times. It makes reference to a lot of things Irish and of Dublin more specifically, so having lived there definitely helped me to identify with the plot. There were moments where I questioned the direction of the story and considered it almost too boring but after some patience I came to realise that such descriptions and background settings were necessary and quite apt considering Irish culture, where many issues are still considered taboo and therefore avoided in conversation – if you know what I am trying to say here. McKeon never shocks the reader and allows for maintenance of comfort and flow by subtly addressing these topics. Her technique is compelling.

The novel addresses several social issues from unplanned pregnancy and homosexuality to bereavement and even money. It considers how individuals and families cope with them and how men manage differently to women. McKeon very eloquently delivers powerful messages that are very true to Ireland today. She builds vivid settings with minimum storyline allowing for the smallest twist to achieve deep impact, which if you are in any way sensitive will have you engaged.

Towards the end and after some reflection I noticed some major character developments and even some nice parallels between them and the different stories that progress. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I hope that I even learned something new about writing technique as was my initial intention. It is definitely a book I would consider reading again, which for me is a big deal.



Leave a Comment
  1. J.D. Gallagher / Sep 18 2013 3:25 pm

    and incredibly descriptive for which I can be a bit impatient at times

    I’m the same, some authors go on and on and very few books that do this are worth reading, although the social issues regarding Ireland sounds interesting, God knows there are a lot of them. Great review.

  2. ldejong4 / Sep 18 2013 4:37 pm

    Thanks! Yeah it was a random but very good read.

  3. Claire b / Sep 18 2013 9:10 pm

    Lisa, I have this book on my bookcase and I’ve never read it!! Definitely going to fish it out now. Xx

    • ldejong4 / Sep 18 2013 9:13 pm

      🙂 Story of my life with books also! Let me know what you think.

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