Historian David Hollis believes he has found a treasure of incalculable value: a trove of old photographs, the earliest pictures ever taken of a great city in its earliest days. The glass negatives, he is certain, were in a strongbox on a ship that sank in the city's harbor a century and a half earlier. That wreck, by his calculations, is beneath a landfill in the process of being excavated for a new sports arena. If construction can be halted for a search, a unique record of the city's birth might be reclaimed for all. David's quest is unfulfilled at the time of his death, and his widow, Marianne, takes up the challenge. Confronting skepticism and resistance, she learns more about Jem Hallam, the immigrant photographer whose pictures become her grail. In a masterful interweaving of two centuries, Consolation unfolds the story of Jem Hallam's life alongside Marianne's search. What brought him from England to the new and still primitive town of Toronto? Why did he leave his wife and children behind? What drove him to photograph this young metropolis in such vivid detail? Consolation moves back and forth between the stories of David's legacy and of Jem Hallam's life, revealing a mysterious connection. Nothing less than survival itself is at stake for Jem Hallam, while love and pride drive Marianne Hollis's effort to vindicate her late husband. Michael Redhill makes each element of his unforgettable story both profound and suspenseful, brilliantly illuminating how time and grief alter the contours of even the things we think we know for certain. It is the work of a writer at the top of his form.
On Sale: January 10th 2007