Frank Cottrell Boyce reviews Solace Of The Road by Siobhan Dowd
The last two paragraphs of Cottrell Boyce's review:
...Stories are chains of consequence, one thing leads to another. But some of the most sublime stories end when an act of grace or love that means "it ain't necessarily so". Abraham doesn't have to sacrifice Isaac. The Green Knight has the right to decapitate Gawain but barely nicks him with his sword. The prodigal son thinks he has spent all his father's love but discovers that it is endless.
Dowd's glittering career fits more or less into the fearful gap between diagnosis and death. Here's a story about a journey which is equally fearful but which turns out to be worth it, thanks, as Holly says, to people who "did something to help me and asked for nothing back". This is a book which, despite its grim-sounding subject, turns out to be about the graces we gain when we just set out on the journey, and about good will which is the means of that grace and, which - to quote Cormac McCarthy - has the power "to heal men and bring them to safety long after all other resources are exhausted." FRANK COTTRELL BOYCE