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

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As you have mentioned in your beautiful, beautiful review here, there is so much depth, and I want to spend more time and attention there, to understand the human condition that Lawson effortlessly explores in the book. And, also like a magician, she possesses an instinctive feel for when to withhold information, and when to release it.

Anuk Arudpragasam is a hugely promising young Sri Lankan author: in his second novel, A Passage North, a young man reflects on the horrors of the civil war. He can’t work out what to do with his life and he hopes temporarily living in the house will give him some breathing space. As a novel in its own right this is a slow paced character study of how life in a small town and the disappearance of a teenager affect 3 interconnected people. History is an interpretation of the past and these three books, each one powerfully persuasive and offering new ways of seeing, are in conversation with each other.

This deftly-structured novel draws together the stories of three people at three different stages in life, each of whom is grappling with loss. We pay respects to all First Nations people of Australia, and recognise their connection to the land.

Orchard was sent for a short stay in hospital, and Clara promised to keep an eye on the house and its remaining occupant, Mrs. 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. And it’s no surprise to see Richard Powers here, previously shortlisted for The Overstory; it’s not out until September, but Bewilderment, an investigation of climate grief and the prospect of life on other planets, told through the story of a father and his troubled son, will be a strong contender. Brilliantly written, interweaving seven different characters across various times, Bartlett’s precise storytelling pulled me in.She is the author of three previous nationally and internationally bestselling novels, Crow Lake, The Other Side of the Bridge, and Road Ends. Enter thirtyish Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, where he promptly moves into the house next door–watched suspiciously by astonished and dismayed Clara, whose elderly friend, Mrs. They all have their own agenda and what they all have in common is that they live in Solace, and their lives somehow touch. American Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle, meanwhile, is a soaring crowd-pleaser of a historical novel: a century-spanning epic of early female aviation and adventure. When I finished the book, I felt like I watched a cheap movie with good actors but a bit of a lousy script.

It took me back to all the addresses I’ve lived in - the lesbian squat in Vauxhall, John le Carré’s house in Hampstead! Angry and rebellious, she had a row with her mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. The book’s ending is very predictable, ordinary and unexciting, so it doesn’t add much to the reader in general. A couple of my neighbours are very bookish, and they’ve both been reading quite a lot of Mary Lawson recently. Francis Spufford’s Light Perpetual beautifully traces the inner lives of a group of working-class Londoners against postwar changes in British society.

Angry, rebellious Rose had a row with their mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. The rigorous questioning of nation and identity, given my incessant preoccupations, made it a truly therapeutic literary meal. Mercilessly anatomising privilege, creativity and ambition, male-female relationships and lockdowns Covid-driven and emotional, Cusk is brutally funny and honest about shame, ego and our sense of self.

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