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.~Goodreads Blurb
As soon as word got out that there was going to be a new book by author Jamie Ford, I began my hunt for an ARC. I needed to read it as soon as possible. “Love and Other Consolation Prizes” was exactly what I’ve come to expect from Ford. Loosely based on a newspaper article, the story follows a young orphan boy’s new life in Seattle and in his old age taking care of his wife. In a familiar style, Ford jumps between two different times in his life, both centering around the World Fairs. This is a familiar style for Ford, that has definite throwbacks to one of his other books, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” If you enjoyed that style, then you will enjoy his latest book as well. There is a great interaction within the story between the main characters and their children. It really shows the difference between generations and the sometimes missed history that can happen in families. Often times we forget that our parents existed before we were born and that they had lives at all let alone the sort of lives that Ernest Young and his wife had to endure. Unlike some of his other books that I felt were wrapped up with perfect endings, “Love and Other Consolation Prizes” left me with a twinge of sadness. I don’t often become emotionally involved with books but this one followed me around for at least a week. If you enjoy generational stories and historical fiction then I would highly recommend this book. I would also encourage you to find a nice comfy chair and prepare to be captured.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for honest feedback*
Freelance Editor & Reviewer