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Consolation: A Novel

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“There is a vast part of this city with mouths buried in it . . . . Mouths capable of speaking to us. But we stop them up with concrete and build over them and whatever it is they wanted to say gets whispered down empty alleys and turns into wind. . . .”

These are among the last words of Professor David Hollis before he throws himself off a ferry into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. A renowned professor of “forensic geology,” David leaves in his wake both a historical mystery and an academic scandal. He postulated that on the site where a sports arena is about to be built lie the ruins of a Victorian boat containing an extraordinary treasure: a strongbox full of hundreds of never-seen photographs of early Toronto, a priceless record of a lost city. His colleagues, however, are convinced that he faked his research materials.

Determined to vindicate him, his widow, Marianne, sets up camp in a hotel overlooking the construction site, watching and waiting for the boat to be unearthed. The only person to share her vigil is John Lewis, fiancé to her daughter, Bridget. An orphan who had come to love David as his own father, John finds himself caught in a struggle between mother and daughter-all the while keeping a dark secret from both women.

Interwoven into the contemporary story is another narrative set in 1850s: the tale of Jem Hallam, a young apothecary struggling to make a living in the harsh new city so he can bring his wife and daughters from England. Crushed by ruthless competitors, he develops an unlikely friendship with two other down-on-their-luck Torontonians: Samuel Ennis, a brilliant but dissolute Irishman, and Claudia Rowe, a destitute widow. Together they establish a photography business and set out to create images of a fledgling city where wooden sidewalks are put together with penny nails, where Indians spear salmon at the river mouth and the occasional bear ambles down King Street, where department stores display international wares and fine mansions sit cheek-by-jowl with shantytowns.

Consolation moves back and forth between David Holliss legacy and Jem Hallams struggle to survive, ultimately revealing a mysterious connection between the two narratives. Exquisitely crafted and masterfully written, Michael Redhills superlative book reveals how history is often transformed into a species of fantasy, and how time alters the contours of even the things we hold most certain. As complex and layered as the city whose story it tells, Consolation evokes the mysteries of love and memory, and what suffering the absence of the beloved truly means.

From the Hardcover edition.

Synopsis:

There is a vast part of this city with mouths buried in it . . . . Mouths capable of speaking to us. But we stop them up with concrete and build over them and whatever it is they wanted to say gets whispered down empty alleys and turns into wind. . . .

These are among the last words of Professor David Hollis before he throws himself off a ferry into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. A renowned professor of forensic geology, David leaves in his wake both a historical mystery and an academic scandal. He postulated that on the site where a sports arena is about to be built lie the ruins of a Victorian boat containing an extraordinary treasure: a strongbox full of hundreds of never-seen photographs of early Toronto, a priceless record of a lost city. His colleagues, however, are convinced that he faked his research materials.

Determined to vindicate him, his widow, Marianne, sets up camp in a hotel overlooking the construction site, watching and waiting for the boat to be unearthed. The only person to share her vigil is John Lewis, fiance to her daughter, Bridget. An orphan who had come to love David as his own father, John finds himself caught in a struggle between mother and daughter-all the while keeping a dark secret from both women.

Interwoven into the contemporary story is another narrative set in 1850s: the tale of Jem Hallam, a young apothecary struggling to make a living in the harsh new city so he can bring his wife and daughters from England. Crushed by ruthless competitors, he develops an unlikely friendship with two otherdown-on-their-luck Torontonians: Samuel Ennis, a brilliant but dissolute Irishman, and Claudia Rowe, a destitute widow. Together they establish a photography business and set out to create images of a fledgling city where wooden sidewalks are put together with penny nails, where Indians spear salmon at the river mouth and the occasional bear ambles down King Street, where department stores display international wares and fine mansions sit cheek-by-jowl with shantytowns.

Consolation moves back and forth between David Hollis's legacy and Jem Hallam's struggle to survive, ultimately revealing a mysterious connection between the two narratives. Exquisitely crafted and masterfully written, Michael Redhill's superlative book reveals how history is often transformed into a species of fantasy, and how time alters the contours of even the things we hold most certain. As complex and layered as the city whose story it tells, Consolation evokes the mysteries of love and memory, and what suffering the absence of the beloved truly means.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Michael Redhill is the publisher and one of the editors of Brick, a literary magazine, and the author of the novel Martin Sloane, a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize, and the short story collection Fidelity. He has also written four poetry collections, including Asphodel, published in 1997, and Light-Crossing, published in 2001. His most recent works for the theatre are Goodness and Building Jerusalem, winner of a Dora Award.

Consolation, Redhills second novel, was shortlisted for the 2007 Toronto Book Award. In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, he described how he was inspired by a real photograph taken in thirteen parts in the winter of 1856 as part of a campaign to entice Queen Victoria to choose the city as the capital of pre-Confederation Canada: “I knew there was something in the pictures I wanted to write about. But the more I scribbled things down, the more I began to recognize a resonance between that dead city, no stitch of which exists anymore, and modern Toronto. The attitude and striving is still prevalent.” He adds: “Its a strange, self-loathing city that at the same time is constantly striving to be world class and noticed. The city never tends to think about its own needs; it thinks about what other people might find impressive.”

Michael Redhill lives with his partner and their two sons in France.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385659512
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Anchor Canada
Author:
Redhill, Michael
Subject:
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20070731
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8 x 4.99 x 1.01 in 0.75 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Consolation: A Novel
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 480 pages Anchor Canada - English 9780385659512 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , There is a vast part of this city with mouths buried in it . . . . Mouths capable of speaking to us. But we stop them up with concrete and build over them and whatever it is they wanted to say gets whispered down empty alleys and turns into wind. . . .

These are among the last words of Professor David Hollis before he throws himself off a ferry into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. A renowned professor of forensic geology, David leaves in his wake both a historical mystery and an academic scandal. He postulated that on the site where a sports arena is about to be built lie the ruins of a Victorian boat containing an extraordinary treasure: a strongbox full of hundreds of never-seen photographs of early Toronto, a priceless record of a lost city. His colleagues, however, are convinced that he faked his research materials.

Determined to vindicate him, his widow, Marianne, sets up camp in a hotel overlooking the construction site, watching and waiting for the boat to be unearthed. The only person to share her vigil is John Lewis, fiance to her daughter, Bridget. An orphan who had come to love David as his own father, John finds himself caught in a struggle between mother and daughter-all the while keeping a dark secret from both women.

Interwoven into the contemporary story is another narrative set in 1850s: the tale of Jem Hallam, a young apothecary struggling to make a living in the harsh new city so he can bring his wife and daughters from England. Crushed by ruthless competitors, he develops an unlikely friendship with two otherdown-on-their-luck Torontonians: Samuel Ennis, a brilliant but dissolute Irishman, and Claudia Rowe, a destitute widow. Together they establish a photography business and set out to create images of a fledgling city where wooden sidewalks are put together with penny nails, where Indians spear salmon at the river mouth and the occasional bear ambles down King Street, where department stores display international wares and fine mansions sit cheek-by-jowl with shantytowns.

Consolation moves back and forth between David Hollis's legacy and Jem Hallam's struggle to survive, ultimately revealing a mysterious connection between the two narratives. Exquisitely crafted and masterfully written, Michael Redhill's superlative book reveals how history is often transformed into a species of fantasy, and how time alters the contours of even the things we hold most certain. As complex and layered as the city whose story it tells, Consolation evokes the mysteries of love and memory, and what suffering the absence of the beloved truly means.

From the Hardcover edition.

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