“An evocative, heartfelt, beautifully crafted story that shines a light on a fascinating, tragic bit of forgotten history.”—Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale
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.
Praise for Love and Other Consolation Prizes
“Exciting . . . [Jamie] Ford captures the thrill of first kisses and the shock of revealing long-hidden affairs.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Strong . . . A laudable effort that shines light on little known histories.”—Library Journal
“Poignant . . . Vibrantly rendered.”—Booklist
“Combining rich narrative and literary qualities, the book achieves a multi-faceted emotional resonance. It is by turns heart-rending, tragic, disturbing, sanguine, warm, and life-affirming. Perceptive themes that run throughout culminate at the end. A true story from the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition inspired this very absorbing and moving novel. Highly recommended.”—Historical Novel Society (Editors’ choice)
“Ford is a master at shining light into dark, forgotten corners of history and revealing the most unexpected and relatable human threads. . . . A beautiful and enthralling story of resilience and the many permutations of love.”—Jessica Shattuck, author of The Women in the Castle
“All the charm and heartbreak of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet . . . Based on a true story, Love and Other Consolation Prizes will warm your soul.”—Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
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Excerpted from "Love and Other Consolation Prizes"
Copyright © 2017 Jamie Ford.
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Reading Group Guide
I’ve been in a guys’ book group, called Books & Brews, for five years now. When I was first asked to join, I thought it was a clever ruse, an excuse for men to get together and perhaps have some sort of clandestine fantasy football draft. I was wrong. The first book was Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying Lot of 49. That’s when I knew these guys take their reading seriously. (And that they tend to choose books waaaaay above my reading level. Um…thanks guys).
So with book clubs in mind, I came up with some questions, as if they were presented to my own book club. Ready? Here goes:
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 prostitution in the early 20th century has often been glamorized, while Asian prostitution has been demonized. Is there truth behind those cultural tropes? Are our historical perceptions off? What’s the reality of those perceptions then—and now?
6. Madam Flora and Miss Amber have a unique relationship. Do you see this as one born of love, of shared business interests, or a bit of both?
7. Speaking of business interests, do you see Madam Flora and Miss Amber as two people exploiting young women, or benefiting them?
8. Early world’s fairs often had ethnographic exhibits—human zoos, if you will. When did this stop being socially acceptable and why the change?
9. World’s fairs also try to be predictive of the future. The 1962 World’s Fair boasted the latest technology and hinted at a grand technological leap. Were those predictions right?
10. At the Tenderloin (and in the character of Turnbull) we see wealthy, successful men breaking rules and social conventions. Is there a modern analog? Are wealthy men today able to live above and beyond the margins of law and civil discourse and if so, who, and how are they able to get away with such behavior?
11. For much of the book, the reader is wondering whom Ernest will ultimately end up marrying. Did he make the right choice? Why or why not?
12. Lastly, Ernest and Fahn read a certain book by Henry de Vere Stacpoole. How does that novel reflect the innocence and tragedy of their relationship? And do you know what that book is? (Hint, it was made into a somewhat cheesy movie in the 80s).