It is 1910 and Corley Roper, a famous children's author, is mourning the death of his young daughter. Estranged from his wife and wracked by grief, he happens one night upon Mary Wilson, who is mourning her own still-born son. No longer able to enter into the fictional world that made his name, and haunted by the ghost of this other lost child, Roper sets out to solve the mystery of Mary's ancestry, a journey he hopes will bring consolation to them both.

Taking as his starting point the tragic story of his own grandmother, James Wilson masterfully weaves fiction and family history into a powerful novel about grief, love and the redeeming enchantment of literature itself.

Praise for Consolation

'Wilson's previous novels have shown his skill at creating characters who occupy a plausible past. He is equally good here, with his lovingly detailed Edwardian world and the certainties of its inhabitants. As author and reader know, time is running out for them. The book is beautifully written, too ... '
The Independent

'Consolation is not a heavy, depressing book. Rather, it is well written, with a pleasing balance of tenderness, depth and intelligence. It offers quite sumptuous food for thought ... James Wilson's style of writing is just up my street, with vivid descriptions of scenery — the sublime romance of the English countryside — but not overdone. He evokes the right amount of empathy for Roper, but cleverly understates the chasm of grief he feels, rather alluding to it in a subtle way that somehow magnifies it more than if it were thrust in the reader's face. He provides the skeleton for his psychological frame of mind, and the reader fills in the blanks — most satisfying. A brilliant read.'
The Witness (Book of the Year choice)

'Beautifully written and absorbing ... Wilson's characters are convincing period creations, not only in their speech and attitudes but in the solid-oak feel you get from authors such as Somerset Maugham and John Buchan. This is a world that will soon be blown apart by the First World War, but its certainties are barely dented ... At the heart of Mary's parentage is as nasty a tale of seduction and betrayal as any in Henry James ... Wilson has a gifted, original voice. His insights into human life — the uncertainties of both love and writing; the near-lunacy both cause — will please a sensitive reader and tease an impatient one.'
The Daily Telegraph

'This novel's acute psychological force resides in disorientating and misleading the reader as much the confused protagonist about what is true and what is mere mental aberration. James Wilson movingly shows how much madness may lie in losing the things we most love.'
The Independent on Sunday

'Drawing on the history of his own family and blending it seamlessly with fiction, James Wilson brings a century-old story to life through the compelling evocation of Corley's voice, as well as painstaking attention to the detail of the period. The result is an animated, haunting and surprisingly uplifting novel.'
The Observer

Cover of Consolation

Faber and Faber (06 August 2009)
ISBN: 9780571238064

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