“My theory…is that the best, worst, happiest, saddest, scariest, and most memorable moments are all connected. Those are the important times, good and bad. The rest is just filler…” (Maisie, Location 2312 in Kindle version).
Ernest’s story begins in his native China, a young child faced with the devastation of his family. Everything that Ernest becomes starts here, amidst despair, heartbreak, and famine. Orphaned by his mother, he survives a treacherous journey to the West Coast of America. This first instance of abandonment triggers in Ernest longings that last for his entire life – to love and to belong.
Eventually, he finds his way to the 1909 World’s Fair in Seattle and ends up a door prize. He is literally raffled off and handed over to the care of his new family.
This is the moment where everything changes.
Ernest finds family, a home, and the love he has been searching for; however, his family is all women and his home is a brothel. In a story of contradictions, warmth and devotion overflow. Ernest meets his best friends, Maisie, daughter of the Madame, and Fahn, a Japanese servant. The three friends survive and thrive in a world that seems utterly upside-down, and they do it together.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Love and Other Consolation Prizes” and its host of colorful characters. Enthralling lead characters must be supported by a cast that is vivid and real and, in this, Ford fully comes through. He also manages to maintain a sense of anticipation throughout the novel. Ernest slowly unfurls his story through remembrances and conversations with his daughter in the current day, which for him is 1962. I always enjoyed the moments of suspense between the past and the present; they kept me reading long past my bedtime!
Overall, “Love and Other Consolation Prizes” warmed by heart and informed me about a time and a place completely unknown to me beforehand. I highly recommend this book for anyone that loves historical fiction and longs for a book to restore their hope.
Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All thoughts, opinions, and ratings are my own.