Jamie Ford brings an historic fiction story, based on familial events to the blog today. Please read on for my review of
Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Told in a dual-timeline style, the story begins with a five year old Yung Kun and the horrific events that led to his mother’s leaving him with a hairpin as she sent him off to emigrate to America. On the boat, we see the emergence of Ernest Young, a child in 1902, half-Chinese, in scary circumstances that his young mind can’t quite process. Instantly Ford draws readers in, giving a sense of the confusion and sorrow buried in this child, and shows us the true heart of the man to come: kindly, smart, observant and above all, his instinct to survive. Throughout the book, we follow the young boy through the arrival (and survival) at Dead Man’s Bay where his life in the Pacific Northwest begins. Shuffled off to a boarding school as a charity student, his loney and isolated life begins: a child desperate for a home and a place to belong, in a strange land and just different enough to not be accepted by either the white or Chinese community. As much as Ernest is changing, the world around him is too: technological advances unlike any of the previous years, the boon years at the turn of the century bring the world’s fair to Seattle – and the descriptions of the amazing sights the boy saw as he waited to become a prize in a raffle for a “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” Here is where the young Ernest shows both that strength that was hard won in a life full of challenges, and the heart that was so open and giving. Purchased by a brothel madam to be the houseboy, he’s quick to befriend the madam’s daughter and a Japanese kitchen girl, giving him the sense of family he has so longed for.
Mixed with this tale of survival, growth and the sheer power of overcoming every obstacle, many unknown or forgotten in this modern era, we are treated to the older Ernest’s story in 1962 comes full circle with another world’s fair, and the stories he remembers that made him the man he is with his own family, friends and life. Presenting us with an interesting perspective on the impact of decisions made or forgone, the undefinable impact of family made or born to, and the survival of the human spirit the presence of Ernest is palpable and genuine.
It’s difficult to make this book sound just as special as it is: from the history that is learned to the descriptions of the atmosphere, the surprising (and sadly not) racism and discrimination, and the hope found from one woman determined to educate her ‘girls’, those destined for lives that can only be described as soul-draining, the strength of the characters sings loudly. Based on a true history of the author’s grandfather, there truly could be no better way to express his appreciation, nor to honor those who brought you to life than this. From quiet moments of reflection to the more diverse and wonder-filled descriptions of events, places and discoveries, the story keeps the reader engaged and wanting more: more for Ernest as he struggled to find a family even as he never truly lost hope or the memories of what was.
Title: Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Author: Jamie Ford
Genre: Chinese, Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Jazz Age, Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction /Family Saga
Published by: Ballantine Books
Published on: 12 September, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 29 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
From the bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet comes a powerful novel, inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
For twelve-year-old Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World's Fair feels like a gift. But only once he's there, amid the exotic exhibits, fireworks, and Ferris wheels, does he discover that he is the one who is actually the prize. The half-Chinese orphan is astounded to learn he will be raffled off--a healthy boy "to a good home."
The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls. There, Ernest becomes the new houseboy and befriends Maisie, the madam's precocious daughter, and a bold scullery maid named Fahn. Their friendship and affection form the first real family Ernest has ever known--and against all odds, this new sporting life gives him the sense of home he's always desired.
But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love.
Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle's second World's Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.
Against a rich backdrop of post-Victorian vice, suffrage, and celebration, Love and Other Consolations is an enchanting tale about innocence and devotion--in a world where everything, and everyone, is for sale.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.