Summary and book reviews of Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

A Novel

by Jamie Ford

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
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  • Published:
    Sep 2017, 320 pages

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Book Summary

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.

Overture
(1962)
4

Ernest Young stood outside the gates on opening day of the new world's fair, loitering in the shadow of the future. From his lonely vantage point in the VIP parking lot, he could see hundreds of happy people inside, virtually every name in Seattle's Social Blue Book, wearing their Sunday best on a cool Saturday afternoon. The gaily dressed men and women barely filled half of Memorial Stadium's raked seating, but they sat together, a waterfall of wool suits and polyester neckties, cut-­out dresses and ruffled pillbox hats, cascading down toward a bulwark of patriotic bunting. Ernest saw that the infield had been converted to a speedway for motorboats—­an elevated moat, surrounding a dry spot of land where the All-­City High School Band had assembled, along with dozens of reporters who milled about smoking cigarettes like lost sailors, marooned on an island of generators and television cameras. As the wind picked up, Ernest could smell ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The story of Ernest starts off on a very sad note. Do you condemn Ernest's mother for her actions, and if so, what were her alternatives?
  2. The early suffrage movements in the U.S. all took place in what were regarded as frontier territories in the west. Why do you think the trends of suffrage and vice emerged at the same time, in the same places? (Like Wyoming, where women first got the vote in 1869).
  3. Those suffrage campaigns were often intertwined with religious movements. When did women's rights diverge somewhat from a religious underpinning and why?
  4. This book ultimately deals with prostitution. Is there an intersection between prostitution, personal agency, and feminism? Or are these mutually exclusive concepts?
  5. Caucasian ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Jamie Ford has written another winner. I was a fan after Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and he does not disappoint with his latest (Roe P). There is nothing I didn't like about this book: the setting, the eras, the depth of the descriptions of both the times and the characters, the entertaining story, the history lesson... all meshed together to make an excellent read. I wish it had lasted another 100 pages (Arden A). Readers are certainly going to be happy that Jamie Ford has given us another beautifully written novel (Judi R).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review Members Only (789 words).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Alternating between Ernest’s past and present, Ford captures the thrill of first kisses and the shock of revealing long-hidden affairs. A lively history of romance in the dens of iniquity, love despite vice.

Author Blurb Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train
In this sweeping, big-hearted novel — inspired by the true story of a 12-year-old boy raffled off as a prize at the 1909 Seattle World Fair — we encounter a cast of colorful characters, fascinating historical details, and (in typical Jamie Ford fashion) insights about morality, race, and culture that deepen and expand the story. With humor and pathos, Ford captures the texture and feeling of life in America in the early 20th century, exploring both the corrosive glitter of high society and the complicated pleasures, not to mention alliances, to be found at the bottom. Utterly charming.

Author Blurb Melanie Benjamin, New York Times Best Selling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
A gripping story about the unpredictability of life—particularly the life of an immigrant; the poignancy of surviving; and above all, the incredible power of love to heal even the most shameful wounds. Jamie Ford has created a fascinating world, bookended by Seattle's two World Fairs, and peopled it with colorful, brave characters we care deeply about in this masterful job of storytelling.

Author Blurb Ann Hood, bestselling author of The Book That Matters Most
Only Jamie Ford could take a snippet of a true story about a child offered as a raffle prize at the 1909 Seattle World's Fair and spin it into a dazzling tale of love and family and ultimately hope. Love and Other Consolation Prizes" has the big generous heart Ford always brings to his novels and fans will rejoice in it.

Author Blurb Jessica Shattuck, author of The Women in the Castle
Ford is a master at shining light into dark, forgotten corners of history and revealing the most unexpected and relatable human threads. Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a beautiful and enthralling story of resilience and the many permutations of love.

Author Blurb Kathy Hepinstall, author of The Book of Polly
An epic and touching love story of a raffled-off orphan boy named Ernest and the two girls he loves — one for now, one forever. Set against the backdrop of old Seattle, Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a tenderly defiant testimony to the soaring value of a human being, even the most forgotten among us.

Author Blurb Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale
If your book club wants to fall in love with a novel, look no further than Love and Other Consolation Prizes. This is an evocative, heartfelt, beautifully crafted story that shines a light on a fascinating, tragic bit of forgotten history. Jamie Ford at his storytelling best.

Reader Reviews

PEGGY S

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.

Hulananni

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.

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 ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

170 Years of World's Fairs

Love and Other Consolation Prizes largely revolves around two World's Fairs that took place in Seattle in 1909 and 1962.

Officially known as Universal Expositions, more than 100 World's Fairs have been held in more than 20 countries, large and small, since the first one premiered in 1851. The events showcase a country's industrial and scientific achievements, as well as highlight its culture.  World's Fairs generally run from three to six months, with a major fair held every five years and smaller expositions sometimes held in the interim. During the almost 170 years since the first World's Fair, it is estimated that over a billion people have attended one.

The Crystal PalaceThe idea seems to have evolved from English and French national ...

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