The Solace of Leaving Early (Paperback)

By Haven Kimmel

Anchor Books, 9781400033348, 288pp.

Publication Date: May 13, 2003



Using small-town life as a springboard to explore the loftiest of ideas, Haven Kimmel’s irresistibly smart and generous first novel is at once a romance and a haunting meditation on grief and faith. Langston Braverman returns to Haddington, Indiana (pop. 3,062) after walking out on an academic career that has equipped her for little but lording it over other people. Amos Townsend is trying to minister to a congregation that would prefer simple affirmations to his esoteric brand of theology.

What draws these difficult—if not impossible—people together are two wounded little girls who call themselves Immaculata and Epiphany. They are the daughters of Langston’s childhood friend and the witnesses to her murder. And their need for love is so urgent that neither Langston nor Amos can resist it, though they do their best to resist each other. Deftly walking the tightrope between tragedy and comedy, The Solace of Leaving Early is a joyous story about finding one’s better self through accepting the shortcomings of others.

About the Author

Haven Kimmel is the author of the memoir A Girl Named Zippy. She studied English and creative writing at Ball State University and North Carolina State University. She also attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Praise For The Solace of Leaving Early

“A wonderful debut . . . . Vivid and hopeful, packed with astute allusions.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Kimmel delivers a first novel of big ideas and exquisite characters. Sweet and smart, her book feels like a present.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A quirky, literary love story . . . best read for its characters, its surprising phrasing and the way it deals with all sorts of ideas, including the possibility of improbable love.” —USA Today

“Kimmel, whose sunny memoir of growing up in Indiana, A Girl Named Zippy, was so charming, here extends her range, wrestling, like Jacob with the angel, with deep questions of faith and responsibility. And the reader is the lucky winner.” —The Times-Picayune

“Kimmel gives us a stunning bird’s-eye view of rural American life, as damning as it is affectionate.” — Los Angeles Times

"The Solace of Leaving Early is by turns funny and sad and perplexing and compassionate." —The Miami Herald

"[The Solace of Leaving Early]. . . explores the mores of community as thoroughly as John Updike and delineates character as finely as Jonathan Franzen." —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Filled with shattering revelations . . . her characters [are] electrifying— this compassionate book is one that begs to be sampled and savored.” —The Stanford Herald

"A captivating book with ragged edges. . . . Rare are the writers who can bring head and heart and wit to bear on their fictional landscapes. Kimmel proves she's one of them." —The Plain Dealer

“A sweet and satisfying reward . . . more delicious than a gooey dessert.” ----—Midwest Living

"Intelligent and compassionate." —Publishers Weekly

" The Solace of Leaving Early is a beautiful meditation on what it means to be home, and how home can be found in the most unexpected places." -Bookpage

"There must have been a time when John Updike had only just begun, a time when Carol Shields wasn't known much outside Ottawa. And there must have been some readers then who got to experience the bliss of knowing that they would witness the trajectory of these writers' careers. Hear me this: Haven Kimmel is a reason for great happiness." —The Orlando Sentinel