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The Solace of Leaving Earlyby Haven Kimmel
Synopses & Reviews
In her rich and nuanced debut novel, Haven Kimmel brings to life two irresistible people at odds with their small-town lives and with each other.
Langston Braverman does not come home to Haddington, Indiana, because she is searching for a simpler life. Having just walked out of her Ph.D. oral exams and abandoned the remains of a disastrous affair, she has retreated to her parents' attic to nurse a bruised heart and maybe even write a great American novel. It does not escape her attention that the town is abuzz with the death of her childhood friend, Alice, but not even this morsel of intrigue can rouse Langston from her self-imposed existential dilemma.
A few houses down Plum Street, Amos Townsend is obsessed with Alice's murder and his inability to stop it from happening. A preacher struggling with his role as a spiritual leader after suffering a profound crisis of faith, he finds comfort in helping Alice's two small girls, who have renamed themselves Immaculata and Epiphany. When the children claim to speak to the Virgin Mary in the backyard tree, Amos and Langston become adversaries in their attempts to protect the girls, failing to recognize that they are on the same side.
Told with remarkable wit and sweeping empathy, The Solace of Leaving Early is the story of finding our better selves through accepting the shortcomings of others. With gentle humor, beautiful prose, and a warm empathy for the buried wounds of the human heart, Haven Kimmel has created an unforgettable and wise debut.
"A wonderful debut....Vivid and hopeful, packed with astute allusions." San Francisco Chronicle
"Kimmel delivers a first novel of big ideas and exquisite characters. Sweet and smart, her book feels like a present." Entertainment Weekly
"Kimmel gives us a stunning bird's-eye view of rural American life, as damning as it is affectionate." Los Angeles Times
"Filled with shattering revelations... her characters [are] electrifying — this compassionate book is one that begs to be sampled and savored." The Stanford Herald
"The Solace of Leaving Early is by turns funny and sad and perplexing and compassionate." The Miami Herald
"[The Solace of Leaving Early]... explores the mores of community as thoroughly as John Updike and delineates character as finely as Jonathan Franzen." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"A captivating book with ragged edges....Rare are the writers who can bring head and heart and wit to bear on their fictional landscapes. Kimmel proves she's one of them." The Plain Dealer
A poetic first novel that tells the story of two people, at odds with their small-town lives and with each other, who fall improbably in love.
Using small-town life as a springboard to explore the loftiest of ideas, Haven Kimmels irresistibly smart and generous first novel is at once a romance and a haunting meditation on grief and faith. Langston Braverman returns to Haddington, Indiana (pop. 3,062) after walking out on an academic career that has equipped her for little but lording it over other people. Amos Townsend is trying to minister to a congregation that would prefer simple affirmations to his esoteric brand of theology.
What draws these difficult—if not impossible—people together are two wounded little girls who call themselves Immaculata and Epiphany. They are the daughters of Langstons childhood friend and the witnesses to her murder. And their need for love is so urgent that neither Langston nor Amos can resist it, though they do their best to resist each other. Deftly walking the tightrope between tragedy and comedy, The Solace of Leaving Early is a joyous story about finding ones better self through accepting the shortcomings of others.
About the Author
Haven Kimmel is the author of the memoir A Girl Named Zippy. She studied English and creative writing at Ball State University and North Carolina State University. She also attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
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