Return to Solitude: More Desolation Sound Adventures with the Cougar Lady, Russell the Hermit, the Spaghetti Bandit and Others by Grant Lawrence

“It’s been over a decade since renowned broadcaster and indie rock musician Grant Lawrence launched his writing career with the award-winning Adventures in Solitude, yet some things never change—including the winding Sunshine Coast Highway, close calls at the BC Ferries ticket office and carsick children. But this time, Lawrence returns as a husband and father, not as the vomiting and nerdy kid dragged along by his athletic and unflappable parents.”

A decade or so ago, with the release of Adventures in Solitude, I became a Grant Lawrence enthusiast. A popular CBC broadcaster and Indie rock musician, I knew him first and foremost as a writer. His nonfiction memoirs are engaging, endearing, and fun. It’s armchair travel I want to read, a means of learning about places and people with levity and insight. I found Grant’s first book, like a lot of his readers, on a BC Ferry. Back in the vehicle, as we lumbered toward our destination, I settled in, cracked the spine, and became an immediate fan.

Now, Lawrence’s Return to Solitude takes us back to the beautiful part of the world he’s enjoyed for most of his life, British Columbia’s Desolation Sound. To my delight, he let me know he’s enjoyed my own writing of our coastal regions, shared familiarity with winding roads, ferry travel, forest, sea, and Indigenous history. But I’d already written my glowing review of his work, so my praise of Lawrence is in no way reciprocity. Grant’s latest book is simply a great read, well-written and meticulously researched. There’s a distinct maturation in style and substance since his first publication, as good as that was. I feel the broadcaster coming through in his current work, a sense of investigative journalism, but with the unhurried tempo of carefully crafted memoir. All of it delivered with the story-telling tone of a skilled singer-songwriter.

His publisher gives us this overview of the new book:

“In his inimitable, high-voltage style Lawrence interweaves the rich and harrowing history of the Desolation Sound area with his own experiences of life on the coast. This lively book recounts the life and times of the legendary Cougar Lady, tracks a phantom-like squatter known as the Spaghetti Bandit, and details the bizarre exit and even more bizarre death of Bernard the German. Here too are many of the beloved personalities introduced in Lawrence’s first book, including hippie recluse Russell the Hermit, plus the continued voyages of Big Buck$, the decrepit family boat, and the incredible return of large ocean mammals to Desolation Sound.”

As we follow the lives of Lawrence and his family, we uncover fascinating, in-depth details of those regional pioneers that became so important to him from this area, an extension of his own blood relatives. From these pivotal players we gain insight onto what it means to make a life somewhere new, odds stacked against you, living your dreams, and making lasting friendships along the way. The result is a feeling of optimism, hope in the land and people who live not only on it but wholly within it. I believe this, in part, is a love story. Love of people and place, the past and the future. All of it held in a delicate, timeless swath of coastline.

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About the Author

Grant Lawrence is an award-winning author and CBC broadcaster. He is the author of three best-selling books for adults: Adventures in Solitude (2010), The Lonely End of the Rink (2013), and Dirty Windshields (2017). He’s the first author in the history of the BC Book Prizes to win the Bill Duthie Booksellers Choice twice. Grant is also the host of the CBC Music Top 20, lead singer of The Smugglers, and a Canadian Screen Award winner. He’s married to musician Jill Barber and they live in Vancouver with their two children, Josh and Grace. Return to Solitude is Grant’s long-awaited sequel to Adventures in Solitude.

  • Title: Return to Solitude
  • Author: Grant Lawrence
  • Publisher: Harbour Publishing, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781550179712
  • Pgs: 264

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