Book review with Catherine Raynes: Land and A Town Called Solace

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 27 Feb 2021, 2:02PM

Book review with Catherine Raynes: Land and A Town Called Solace

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 27 Feb 2021, 2:02PM

Land, Simon Winchester

In 1889, thousands of hopeful people raced southward from the Kansas state line and westward from the Arkansas boundary to stake claims on the thousands of acres of unclaimed pastures and meadows. Across the twentieth century, water was dammed and drained in Holland so that a new province, Flevoland, rose up, unchartered and requiring new thinking. In 1850, California legislated the theft of land from Native Americans. An apology came in 2019 from the governor, but what of the call for reparations or return? What of government confiscation of land in India, or questions of fairness when it comes to New Zealand's Maori population and the legacy of settlers?

The ownership of land has always been complicated, opaque, and more than a little anarchic when viewed from the outside. In this book, Simon Winchester explores the the stewardship of land, the ways it is delineated and changes hands, the great disputes, and the questions of restoration – particularly in the light of climate change and colonialist reparation.

A global study, this is an exquisite exploration of what the ownership of land might really mean – not in dry-as-dust legal terms, but for the people who live on it.

A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson

A Town Called Solace–the brilliant and emotionally radiant new novel from Mary Lawson, her first in nearly a decade–opens on a family in crisis: rebellious teenager Rose been missing for weeks with no word, and Rose’s younger sister, the feisty and fierce Clara, keeps a daily vigil at the living-room window, hoping for her sibling’s return.

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. Orchard, owns that home. Around the time of Rose’s disappearance, Mrs. Orchard was sent for a short stay in hospital, and Clara promised to keep an eye on the house and its remaining occupant, Mrs. Orchard’s cat, Moses. As the novel unfolds, so does the mystery of what has transpired between Mrs Orchard and the newly arrived stranger.

Told through three distinct, compelling points of view–Clara’s, Mrs. Orchard’s, and Liam Kane’s–the novel cuts back and forth among these unforgettable characters to uncover the layers of grief, remorse, and love that connect families, both the ones we’re born into and the ones we choose. A Town Called Solace is a masterful, suspenseful and deeply humane novel by one of our great storytellers.