Posted 20 hours ago

A Town Called Solace: ‘Will break your heart’ Graham Norton

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It's beautifully written and so finely crafted; told in the kind of prose I most admire because it takes what appears to be complicated and makes it clear.

Was Elizabeth wrong to allow Clara in her house, without having discussed her previous mental health issues with Clara’s parents? All of them are delicately created and very realistic characters, and you can empathize with them somehow.I had been looking forward to learning more about one of the most important US civil rights activists Fannie Lou Hamer and Keisha Blain’s Until I Am Free (Beacon) did not disappoint. I enjoyed Hugo Hamilton’s The Pages (Fourth Estate), narrated with verve and ingenuity by an actual book, a novel by Joseph Roth, which got saved from the Nazi bonfire and then taken on a picaresque journey across the Atlantic and back to Germany. At night she messes up a new set of Rose's clothes on her bedroom floor, and each day keeps vigil by the window, convinced that: "If she failed to keep watch for her, Rose might not come home.

After the past few years, when even the most ignorant among us took to slinging around virology terms as though we knew what we were talking about, I’ve found myself drawn to accounts and oral histories of the Aids crisis. Double Blind (Harvill Secker) by Edward St Aubyn is about nature, science, rapacious capitalism, psychoanalysis and human folly, and it is both moving and so funny I had to stop every few pages to wipe tears from my eyes. Vanessa Hudgens strikes sexy pose in green-patterned bikini while poolside as she ends more pregnancy speculation. She decided she disliked her first novel and then spent five more years writing until Crow Lake was complete.

More than disturbed, Clara is anxious because she has the keys to the house to enable her to feed the cat Moses while Mrs Orchard is in hospital. Most of us had one or two favoured novels that really struck us, but we couldn’t persuade the others, or sometimes there was a novel where we thought this was a really really good, thoroughly satisfying novel, but does it quite break the new ground or change the horizon in the way we hope a Booker winner would? You don’t want something that is so experimental as to be highly satisfying to the author and a few ultra-sophisticated critics. We’ve lost so much, but Rebanks gives us solutions and myth-busts; a poignant and sad book we need in a time of climate emergency.

Writing is everyday alchemy and fiction writing is maybe more so (though I’m a novelist and guilty of bias). Clara carries the burdens of loss and grief that are difficult even for adults to handle and I dare you not to be heartbroken for her.Successive chapters are told from the contrasting viewpoints of three characters – the disconsolate Liam, who is wondering what to do with the rest of his life; the seven-year-old Clara, unstoppably nosy, whose elder sister has just gone missing; and Elizabeth Orchard, the old lady who, facing death, has given her house to Liam. Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, moves into the house next door – a house left to him by an old woman he can barely remember — and within hours gets a visit from the police. Here, the larger than life character, though involved in the more dangerous narrative, is made into a secondary character, kept at a distant. Seriously ill in hospital, Elizabeth looks back on her life, addressing her reminiscences to her recently deceased husband.

It has the same kind of feel good message as The Midnight Library, but the plot is probably a bit darker in places. Perhaps it is the feisty innocence, but determination of young Clara, who links each of the stories, that allows for optimism to emerge.Her first novel, Crow Lake (2002), is a tense and heart-breaking drama of family love and buried resentment set in rural Ontario, which won the 2003 McKitterick Prize. What I wasn’t expecting was to then see this novel long listed for the Booker Prize a short while after I requested it.

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