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Love and Other Consolation Prizes

A Novel

by Jamie Ford

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford X
Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Sep 2017, 320 pages

    Jun 2018, 336 pages


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There are currently 25 reader reviews for Love and Other Consolation Prizes
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Power Reviewer
Cathryn Conroy

Brilliant and Beautiful: This Is a Haunting and Tender Historical Novel with a Shocking Premise
This novel by Jamie Ford is both a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit, especially in children, and a testament to the power of love to transcend so many of life's deepest hurts and tragedies.

Loosely based on something that actually happened, this is the story of a boy named Yung Kun-ai, whose destitute and dying mother does something horrific from sheer desperation: She gives him away. Yung is taken on a ship and packed into a cage with other Chinese children where they are transported to the United States. After being tossed overboard, he is miraculously rescued and sent to a Seattle home for orphans and then a boarding school. His life is miserable. But his wealthy sponsor has an idea, and Yung, who is renamed Ernest Young, is given away in a raffle that is a publicity stunt for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. The winning ticket is selected by none other than President Taft. The lucky winner of 12-year-old Ernest is Madam Flora, the owner of one of Seattle's best brothels. And now the story really begins. As horrific as it may sound, Ernest finally experiences the love of a family living and working with the "upstairs girls" and the servants. The only other man in the house is Professor Troubadour, who plays the piano during the parlor evenings. Although he's barely a teenager, Ernest falls in love with two of the servants, Fahn and Maisie. But something happens to both servant girls in this brothel—one of them is given a somewhat dubious opportunity of a lifetime, while the other is forever scarred physically and mentally.

Bookended by Seattle's two world's fairs—the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and the 1962 Century 21 Exposition—the novel digs deep into the culture and lifestyle of the city's red-light district, the life of a working prostitute, and the politics of the early 20th century when Seattle was a hotbed for vice—from brothels to opium dens. The author deftly jumps back and forth in time, primarily focusing on the 1910s and using the chapters that take place in 1962 to show what eventually happened to Ernest, Fahn, and Maisie.

While there is a strong plot, albeit one that is not a page-turner, the primary focus of this haunting and tender historical novel is on the colorful, complex, and unique characters. This richly imagined book is both brilliant and beautiful.

Bonus: Do take the time to read the author's note at the end of the book to better understand the genesis of this most unusual story.

Another winner from Jamie Ford
Another interesting novel about Seattle during the first World's Fair in Seattle. Amazing inside look at a brothel and well documented look at this time period.

Second as good as the first
I loved "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" so I was anxious to read Ford's second novel. I was not disappointed. His characters draw me in. I am sharing their pains and their loves. Great read.
Cassandra E. (Fort Myers, FL)

Love and other consolations
Awesome story. I had no problems when the story went back and forth in time frame. Mr. Ford did a wonderful jobin his research in that time era of Seattle. I know everyone will love this book.
Shawna (TX)

"People ....can affect our gravity"
Engrossing story set in a little known era in Seattle 1910's and also in the 1960s. Historical fiction lovers will enjoy this novel.

Themes to discuss include what makes a family, human trafficking, who we choose to love and why we make those choices.

Don't miss the author's note at the end of the novel. My favorite line is "There are people in our lives who we love, and lose, and forever long for. They orbit our hearts like Halley's Comet, crossing into our universe only once, or if we're lucky, twice in a lifetime. And when they do, they affect our gravity."
Amber B. (East Sparta, OH)

Sweet, provoking must-read
Love and Other Consolation Prizes describes a world most readers could never imagine... a world in which the most loving home for a preteen boy is a brothel where he works odd jobs, a world in which dementia is perhaps the most gracious gift for an elderly woman.
I found this engrossing book difficult to put down. It expertly examined issues of friendship, love, feminism, survival, and the worth of a human being.
The dual timelines add much to the story in that the 1960s era teases readers with a happyish ending for Ernest and Fahn/Gracie, but you learn that there's so much more to the story.
I'm eager to read more by Jamie Ford.
Amy P. (Boulder City, NV)

A Pleasure to Read
It was a pleasure to read Love & Other Consolation Prizes, historical fiction based on true events. The story alternates between early and mid-century Seattle Worlds Fairs, following the main characters from childhood to their golden years. Author Jamie Ford vividly describes the despair of a young orphan sold into slavery, the sights and sounds of the wondrous Worlds Fair five decades apart, and the tender love story of friends, family, and the fragile threads that intertwine their lives and their loyalties. This book covers a myriad of topics including medical treatments, immigration, Suffragette movement, in addition to the deeply moving descriptions of each character; their emotions and motives.

It was a double pleasure to be able to read this book during a return visit to Seattle. Ford's eloquent style of writing and attention to detail makes one forget this is a work of fiction!
Deanna W. (Port Jefferson, NY)

Bitter& Sweet
Another historic novel that reflects the history and society of its times. This excellent novel was inspired by true events that occurred at the 1909 Seattle World's Fair. Through flashback and flash-forward chapters the reader follows the life of a boy that is raffled off at the fair. The story deals with themes of family, prejudice, identity, and fitting in. This is a poignant and subtle novel that is perfect for book groups.

Beyond the Book:
  170 Years of World's Fairs

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