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.
Published September 12th 2017 by Books on Tape
Four stars: A lovely story of hope and love that exposes the underside of Seattle.
At five years of age, a half Chinese half Caucasian boy is ripped away from his mother and his home, packed on a ship headed to America. The young boy barely escapes drowning, but eventually he makes it to the United States. He takes on the name Ernest Young. He spends the next few years attending different schools were he never fits in. Then things take a dramatic turn for Ernest when he finds himself at the World’s Fair in Seattle. Little does he know that he is the prize in the raffle. The person holding the winning ticket is the flamboyant and beautiful Madame Flora, a well known brothel owner. Ernest expects the worst, but he quickly finds that his new home is not so bad after all. He soon has a family, friends and even love. Will this hapless orphan finally find a place where he is accepted?
What I Liked:
- This is my first book by author Jamie Ford, and it won’t be my last. Mr. Ford quickly drew me into this tale. I loved the characters, the story, and the actual history. This was a moving book that made me feel all types of emotions from sorrow, horror, pity and happiness. This is a beautifully written book that kept me turning pages until the end.
- I loved that the story had a positive note of hope throughout even when things were dire. Ernest experiences all kinds of tragedy, but he never loses his ability to love. I was swept away by the love story, and I didn’t even mind that there was a love triangle because it was masterfully done. Besides, it isn’t too often that you get a love triangle with a boy and two girls. I also appreciated that there was a strong, enduring friendship between all three that stood the test of time.
- The story moves back and forth in time from the early 1900’s to 1962. In the past, you learn all about young Ernest, and in the future, you see him as an old man as he finds himself revealing the past to his grown daughter. I liked the movement in time, and I thought that the author executed it perfectly.
- Mr. Ford did plenty of research and it shows. The story comes alive in his hands. I loved reading all about the World Fairs. I was especially fascinated to learn after reading the author’s note that the story actually was based in truth. An infant was really raffled off at the World’s Fair in 1909.
- This story also exposes the darker side of Seattle from it’s brothels, whorehouses and complicit government servants, police officers and so forth. It is always interesting to learn about the seedier parts of society. The author also covers another dark chapter, the horrid treatment of the Asian population, and the human trafficking that went on. A terrible industry.
- The ending is well done, sweet and satisfying. No loose ends or nagging questions. I thought it was just right.
- Absolutely read the author’s note at the end. Mr. Ford discusses his inspiration for the story which I found fascinating.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. I thought Ms. Zeller did a wonderful job, especially with the accents.
And the Not So Much:
- I wished that there was just a tiny bit more information on Ernest’s mother and his background. I wanted to understand his situation better.
- I was disappointed that there wasn’t more on Maizy. What happened to her during all those years? Was she happy with the choice she made?
- I enjoyed the audiobook narrated by Ms. Zeller, but I was confused as to why a female narrator was chosen when the story is told through Ernest’s eyes. Why not a male narrator?
Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a moving and beautiful story that showcases the life of a young orphan as he tries to find a place to call home. This book features an epic love story, that will tug at your heart strings. This is a tale that exposes the seedy underbelly of Seattle in the early 1900’s. I especially loved that this story was based on true events. If you want a riveting, entertaining and moving book, pick this one up.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated fort his review.