Solace of Stone
David de Wolf
HM Publishing/CreateSpace (2013)
Reviewed by Sheri Bebee for Reader Views (8/13)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Solace of Stone’ by David de Wolf on Blogcritics.
“Solace of Stone” by David de Wolf is an extraordinary story about life and love, filled with elements of drama, crime and mystery, and exploding with culture of the arts and music. The story takes place in various locations in Europe and in New York City, beginning at the JFK airport in New York with the ‘coincidental’ meeting of the two main characters, George Noble and Charlotte Vermeer. George does all he can to avoid Charlotte, for they are not strangers, yet they end up sitting next to each other on the plane. The past quickly makes its way to the surface and distant memories flood the conversation. Our protagonists consider the choices they made and the resulting consequences that altered and shaped their lives up to this point. From here the author tells their stories of the next 18 years in a separate fashion.
George is a struggling soul who seems to have lost his drive for life. He is an architect with a major firm but is given no creative license. He has been married for many years to Alice, who is a big disappointment and has been cheating on him with a neighbor. He is stuck in his dull, uneventful life. When George is given the opportunity to restore a town devastated by an earthquake, he sees this as the catalyst that turns his life around, yet he can’t even muster up any passion for the project. I found myself thinking time after time of the famous quote from Henry David Thoreau – “Many men lead lives of quiet desperation.” George was so depressing that at first I didn’t want to finish this book, but I’m SO glad I did! George eventually comes around and, after a family tragedy, realizes the importance of the town restoration and decides to return to Rome to finish what has been started.
Charlotte is a highly reputable art historian who struggles to overcome a past that has left her scarred and tentative to move on with her life. She risks love with Viktor, a world-renowned opera singer, in spite of all the red flags that go up during their relationship. Aside from her naiveté with Viktor, I found Charlotte to be much more relatable and realistic than George. She is strong and determined and when she becomes pregnant she faces the truth about her relationship, knows what she has to do to create the best life possible for herself and her child, and never looks back.
The end of the story takes us back to the beginning. Will George and Charlotte find solace in their coincidental reunion? “Solace of Stone” by David de Wolf is captivating and it leaves you with a lot to think about, even after you’ve finished reading. 5 stars. A must read!