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Love and Other Consolation Prizes
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September 2017: American > Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford - 4 stars

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annapi | 4986 comments Jamie Ford has another winner in this novel based on the true story of a child who was raffled off at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, a World's Fair held in Seattle. Ford likes to find these obscure bits of history whose true story we will never know, and build a narrative to try to answer the questions surrounding them.

Young Ernest is a half Chinese, half white boy whose mother gives him away to a white man to find a better life in America. After a few years spent in an orphanage, at 12 he is surprised to have the opportunity to attend the 1909 AYP World's Fair, only to discover that he is the prize to be given away at a raffle there. The winning ticket belongs to Madame Flora, owner of a high-end brothel. Ernest's life takes a turn for the better as he finds himself belonging to a family at last, albeit a strange and unorthodox one, and falls in love with two of the girls whom he becomes particularly close friends with.

The story is told in alternating timelines, between an elderly Ernest in 1962, at the time of Seattle's second World's Fair in a nice wraparound, and young Ernest from 1909 onward. The story is revealed to the reader bit by bit in small tantalizing bites, in a style it seems many authors are doing nowadays. We are shown the suffragette movement as well as the world of vice in Ernest's youth, as well as his struggle with his wife's dementia in his senior years.

Ford does a good job of keeping the reader's interest in both timelines, but I have to admit finding the ending slightly anti-climactic. It wrapped things up pretty satisfyingly, but I was somehow expecting more oomph. Still a very good story, a solid 4 stars.


Ladyslott | 1880 comments I enjoyed it also.


message 3: by Karin (new) - added it

Karin | 7018 comments Another good review! This is on my tbr.


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