Consolation

Michael Redhill's novel Consolation 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.

Michael Redhill

Renowned Professor of "forensic geology," David Hollis throws himself off a ferry into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. David leaves in his wake both a historical mystery and an academic scandal. He believed 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.

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.  Together they establish a photography business and set out to create images of a fledgling city. 

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. (From Doubleday Canada