Consolation: A Novel of Mystery, By James Wilson

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The Independent Culture

Corley Roper is a man in turmoil. He has lost his daughter and is in danger of losing his mind and his marriage. He is a children's author who has spent his life writing about talking animals, but bereavement has paralysed his creativity. Instead, Corley has been wandering through woods, wild rhododendrons and his own spiritual wasteland, only vaguely aware that hunger and solitude are about to unhinge him.

He encounters a talking spaniel and a lady named Mary who is mourning her stillborn son. Are they real or phantoms of a sick mind? Corley becomes fixated on unravelling Mary's mystery, convinced that it is the way to regain touch with the world, and abandons his life in order to travel to Yorkshire and research her ancestry.

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

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