Title: Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Author: Jamie Ford
Genre: historical fiction, romance
Is this Part of a series? No
Publish Date: September 12th, 2017
Summary From Goodreads:
Inspired by a true story, this is the unforgettable story of a young boy named Ernest, set during the 1909 Seattle world’s fair called the Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. It is a time when the magical wonders of technology on display at the expo future seems limitless. But for Ernest, a half-Chinese orphan who found his way to America through a last desperate act of his beloved mother, every door is closed. A charity student at a boarding school, he has never really had a place to call home. Then one day, his wealthy sponsor announces that if a home is what he wants, then that is what he will have: Ernest will be offered as a prize in the daily raffle at the fair, advertised as “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” The woman who “wins” him is the madam of a notorious brothel who was famous for educating her girls. He becomes a houseboy in her brothel and is befriended by the daughter of the madam, as well as a Japanese girl who works in the kitchen. The friendship and love between these three form the first real family Ernest has ever known.
My thanks to Netgalley and Ballentine Books for allowing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit that it took me a few days to process and come to terms not just with the content, but the layout of the book. We first meet an older Ernest standing in front of the World Fair in the 60’s and thinking about a jumble of things from his wife, Gracie, to the poor record keeping of Chine, and then to radio waves bouncing off Cassiopeia. Honestly it was a mess, and if I were someone that just reads the first page to decide if I want to read a book this one would have been tossed. That would have been tragic. As the book progressed, moving from Ernest’s earliest childhood memory- the last time he saw his mother in China- to 1960’s America, it quickly found it’s pace and I was riveted. There were moments of such haunting sadness, but also sweetness and childlike innocence in the oddest places. I adored the characters and found them touching and well developed. The fact that the general ideas behind who is “in the right” and “good” was often blurred and even in question here. Mostly I was left broken yet charmed by a world I can’t even imagine. Due to the issues I had with the start of the book I thought I would give this one a lower rating, but I can’t. It’s still a five star book for me and I will be searching for a hard copy of this one for my shelves. (And as a possible gift for one of my aunties- this is right up her alley). If you loved the lyrical beauty and poignant sadness of Memiors of a Geisha, then you will like this one I think.
On the adult content scale…. well there’s a lot. Sexual content, though done with care and respect, language and violence. It hits a lot of hard subjects, but I would still let my niece read it. I give it a five.
The book comes out Tuesday- go get it!!!!!
Link to book: