Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

by Jamie Ford


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804176750
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/12/2017
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 518,097
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

The son of a Chinese American father, Jamie Ford is the New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and Songs of Willow Frost. Having grown up in Seattle, he now lives in Montana with his wife and children.

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Excerpted from "Love and Other Consolation Prizes"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Jamie Ford.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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).

Customer Reviews

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Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful as ever. Delighted to have read your latest and anxiously await your next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nicely written very descriptive
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very poignant story...
CRSK More than 1 year ago
In 1909, Seattle was the time and place for the Alaskan-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. It brought more welcomed exposure of the area, a relatively unpopulated area still, following the 1905 Alaskan gold rush, and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland. For Seattle, 1909 was a chance to have the attention of the world on their city. “Love and Other Consolation Prizes was inspired by the true story of an infant boy who was raffled off at the 1909 Seattle World’s Fair, as a prize, by the “Washington Children’s Home Society.” Surrounded by miracles of modern science such as a wireless telephone; a machine for butchering salmon; incubators holding premature babies – a human child, Ernest, was auctioned off. In Jamie Ford’s story, the boy that is raffled off is a half-Chinese, half-American twelve year-old boy, Ernest is the name given to him on his arrival, but in China he was Yung Kun-ai. He’s been living at the Home for a while, a charity student, and believes that this chance to attend the World’s Fair is a dream come true, until he realizes that he is the child to be given to the one with the winning raffle ticket. Before he has a chance to process this betrayal, he is working at a brothel, one with a madam who believes in educating her girls. He is to be their houseboy. Maisie, the daughter of Madam Flora, befriends him, as does Fahn, a scullery maid. Both vie for his affection, but his heart belongs to both – he can’t choose, will not choose. Or, as someone in my family used to say, he “willn’t” choose. In 1962 Seattle, Ernest’s daughter is trying to capture the eye of her editor with a story about the opening of Seattle’s new World’s Fair, merging the “then” of the 1909 expo and some of the life experiences of those who attended the opening of the expo, against the opening of the new fair. Knowing her father had been there, the questions begin. Judgements, innocence, devotion, love, losing those we love, as well as the loss of memories are at the heart of this novel. I loved the historic details, from the seedy tenderloin district to the hallowed halls of the Library; this was a world I disappeared into, even if it wasn’t all glitter and glam. I loved these characters, from the uppity judgemental Mothers of Virtue to the sassy Fahn, these characters felt so real, it was easy to get swept away into this story, to care about these people, and to read their stories about the cost of real love, and the cost of love bought and sold on the streets. Those roads not taken, not chosen. One small moment in time that completely change the trajectory of one small life, but what a life! Many thanks for the ARC provided by Ballantine Books / Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
gaele More than 1 year ago
Told in a dual-timeline style, the story begins with a five year old Yung Kun and the horrific events that led to his mother’s leaving him with a hairpin as she sent him off to emigrate to America. On the boat, we see the emergence of Ernest Young, a child in 1902, half-Chinese, in scary circumstances that his young mind can’t quite process. Instantly Ford draws readers in, giving a sense of the confusion and sorrow buried in this child, and shows us the true heart of the man to come: kindly, smart, observant and above all, his instinct to survive. Throughout the book, we follow the young boy through the arrival (and survival) at Dead Man’s Bay where his life in the Pacific Northwest begins. Shuffled off to a boarding school as a charity student, his loney and isolated life begins: a child desperate for a home and a place to belong, in a strange land and just different enough to not be accepted by either the white or Chinese community. As much as Ernest is changing, the world around him is too: technological advances unlike any of the previous years, the boon years at the turn of the century bring the world’s fair to Seattle – and the descriptions of the amazing sights the boy saw as he waited to become a prize in a raffle for a “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” Here is where the young Ernest shows both that strength that was hard won in a life full of challenges, and the heart that was so open and giving. Purchased by a brothel madam to be the houseboy, he’s quick to befriend the madam’s daughter and a Japanese kitchen girl, giving him the sense of family he has so longed for. Mixed with this tale of survival, growth and the sheer power of overcoming every obstacle, many unknown or forgotten in this modern era, we are treated to the older Ernest’s story in 1962 comes full circle with another world’s fair, and the stories he remembers that made him the man he is with his own family, friends and life. Presenting us with an interesting perspective on the impact of decisions made or forgone, the undefinable impact of family made or born to, and the survival of the human spirit the presence of Ernest is palpable and genuine. It’s difficult to make this book sound just as special as it is: from the history that is learned to the descriptions of the atmosphere, the surprising (and sadly not) racism and discrimination, and the hope found from one woman determined to educate her ‘girls’, those destined for lives that can only be described as soul-draining, the strength of the characters sings loudly. Based on a true history of the author’s grandfather, there truly could be no better way to express his appreciation, nor to honor those who brought you to life than this. From quiet moments of reflection to the more diverse and wonder-filled descriptions of events, places and discoveries, the story keeps the reader engaged and wanting more: more for Ernest as he struggled to find a family even as he never truly lost hope or the memories of what was. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Characters that I will never forget. Also love a book that tells about people forgotten and their story. I think I will always wonder what happened to the real "Ernest".
SnowWhite777777 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this book.It is a heart warming story, with a bit of mystery, and history all intertwined. I loved the characters and the story flowed easily. I didn't want to put the book down, and it was easy to get back into, when I had to take a reading break.
davidkubicek More than 1 year ago
This is a love story between Ernest Young, an orphaned Chinese boy who was raffled off at the Seattle World's Fair in 1909 to be a houseboy at a brothel, and two girls who lived in the brothel--Fahn, a scullery maid who was brought over on the same boat as Ernest, and Maisie, the Madam's daughter. It is told as series of memories of the grownup Ernest in 1962 against the backdrop of another Seattle World's Fair. Jamie Ford has only written a few novels, publishing one every other year or so, but Love and Other Consolation Prizes like his others--like Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and The Songs of Willow Frost--is a treat, an easy and enjoyable read.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written , captivating plot, tragic yet uplifting characters . I normally enjoy historical novels, however I am giving only 3 stars because I felt the author over did descriptions of the 1909 World Fair to the point where I found myself nodding off.
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
When we first meet Ernest Young, it is 1962 and he has been married to Gracie for 42 years. Love and Other Consolation Prizes is the story of their life together that started when they were young kids. I am always amazed when an author can take such a sad story and turn it into something beautiful. This is a perfect example. A tale that starts with unthinkable horror changes into one of redemption, love and those people we come to call family. This is the first book I've read by Mr. Ford. It was the last book I read in 2017 and it ties for top spot of my favorite book of the year. ARC from Ballantine Publishers via Netgalley.
Thebooktrail-com More than 1 year ago
Very moving and utterly fascinating. A true story I really couldn’t believe was based on real life situations. A child sold at the first Seattle Trade Fair tells his story years later at the 1967 fair when the Space Needle has just opened. This is one fascinating and heartbreaking read. The history is detailed, well researched and so well woven into the story line. The author is of Chinese heritage himself and what a lovely way to pay homage to your heritage and culture. The arrival of the fair in 1909 and the fair of 1967 and the stories between them – this is like a snapshot of Seattle and world history between those years and so much has happened – on the cultural, political and scientific levels. I felt I was at the fair, I could feel the excitement, anticipation and wide eyed wonderment. Taste the cotton candy and hear the roar of the crowd. This HAS to be a movie. It’s an epic read with so much heart and emotion. It still makes me well up thinking about it now. Jamie Ford you’ve written a book that has touched so many emotions, made me cry in shock and in tears and one that feels like a literary legacy of many kinds. It’s a beautiful , beautiful book.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this novel. As I read, I was completely infatuated with the story that was occurring in the early 1900’s. I looked forward to reading about the life that encircled the Tenderloin and the individuals surrounding it. I felt an attachment and a passion towards Ernest and the girls as each one of them was vital, vital to the Tenderloin and crucial to me. Life outside the house was hostile, the controversies were splitting the town, some of them running deeper than what met the eye. As the stories began to twist together more, the story that was developing in the 1960’s tore at my heart and stole the show. Reflecting upon the past, it brought it to the forefront and tried to make it shine. With this sunshine, it also brought the truth. I fell in love with the historical element of this story. Yung Kun-ai talked about being rounded up with other small children in a cemetery as his mother was no longer able to care for him. Placed inside a ship and held below for a month in the cargo area, he talks of cutting his way out of a burlap bag after being thrown overboard. He is a survivor but for what? Yung’s name is now changed to Ernest and he is attending boarding school, thanks to a Mrs. Irvine. She thinks she is doing him a favor but in reality, Ernest is living it and he wants more. His wanting lands him at the World’s Fair. Exciting! It’s opening day at the fair and it’s time for the raffle. An opening day tradition. As the crowd gathers, Ernest wonders what they are raffling off. Ernest begins to notice that everyone is staring at him. As the questions storm through this head, Mrs. Irvine informs Ernest that he is the raffle. He will be going home with one of the 30,000 attendees. Ernest minds wanders farther, what purpose will he serve them? Ernest got lucky as his new home is with Madam Flora at the Tenderloin. I liked Ernest’s confidence as he sizes up his new home. He has no idea what he is walking into but he welcomes anything with a positive and firm attitude. Ms. Flora changes Ernest’s life. What she and her business provide for him is far more than he could have obtained elsewhere. It wasn’t all roses for Ernest as he reflects back over the years. It’s a sentimental and reflective time as Ernest thinks about the choices he has made throughout the years. I enjoyed everything about this novel including the relationships and my emotional journey through it. I highly recommend this novel.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Ernest Young has had many hardships in his young life. He and his mother lived in dire poverty. He saw his infant sister die and his mother starving. When his mother, having no other choice, finally sent him away on a ship, he wondered what his future held. For a time, he was the ward of a wealthy woman, until she took him to the world’s fair one day. What a surprise it was to learn that he was being raffled off as a prize! Who held the winning ticket? He discovered that the madam of a thriving brothel won him. His life was about to change. This wonderful story of Ernest takes place in the 1960’s. Little-by-little, Ernest flashes back to his childhood, sharing his story with the reader. Tender and authentic, this is a beautiful story about life and its often very unexpected twists and turns. It is about survival, love and life and the surprising way that things often turn out. I received this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Jamie Ford, and Random House Publishing - Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. Jamie Ford is an exceptional author. He writes with such clarity you are not just a bystander - you are there, at the World's Fair in Seattle in 1909, and again in 1962. You become a part of the family as Ernest and Gracie survive by hook or by crook, grow up, raise their girls, grow old. And you see the indignities suffered and privations borne in a country with whole generations lost to famine and war. This is a book I can easily recommend to anyone who enjoys reading at all - it is a reminder that we are among the best fed, healthiest people the world has ever known - we are the lucky ones.
PegGlover More than 1 year ago
Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a well-written and heartbreaking novel. It is also based on a true story. The author brings the reader deep into the heart and mind of Ernest Young, as a young boy in China, and then, again, as a young man, in America, and lastly, as a wise senior, humbled by life, but content in his soul. Ernest was only five-years-old when his mother left him standing alone in a cold cemetery. He was told to wait for a man who would be coming for him. He was being sent to America. Ernest missed his mother and yearned for her touch, even after watching her do an unthinkable act. The months that he spent in the cold bowels of a ship, starving and frightened, were some of the most painful memories for Ernest. A raffle that took place at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, in Seattle, when Ernest was twelve-years-old, shocked him, because, Ernest discovered, much to his dismay, and embarrassment, that he was the raffled-off prize. The winner was a Madam of a high-class brothel, the Tenderloin. It was, there, at the Tenderloin, where Ernest, would learn about love, be accepted as a young man and be changed forever. Maise and Fahn would become his closest companions and shape his future. When Ernest was in his sixties, one of his daughters, a journalist by profession asked to write his story. He was reluctant, though, because his daughters knew very little about his childhood. They also didn’t know about their mother’s sordid past, but those secrets were not his to tell. His daughter, however, was persistent, so Ernest began to relive for her, the poignant tale of his youth. Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a fascinating and compelling read. The story is well-crafted, rich in detail, raw emotion, and realistic dialogue. The characters are fully developed and likable. Love and Other Consolation Prizes stayed with me long after I’d turned the last page. Thank you, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
What a powerful, up close and personal, emotional ride featuring Ernest Young/aka Yung Kun-ai, and we walk in his shoes throughout the novel. With a start in China our little fellow tells of horrible happenings, and being so hungry, he gleaned a harvest rice plot for a few scraps, and then he is gone. What is remarkable that he survived at all, and in doing so we meet his two daughters. Talk about the down trodden, we meet them and through Ernest we walk in their shoes, and from the shores of China to Seattle. He was born to Chinese mother and an English father, and as such was an outcast, in both China and America. The Worlds Fairs in Seattle, yes the one in early 1900, and again in late 1950’s are the back drop for a lot of this story, along with a brothel, and what the two have to do with each other, you are on one amazing journey once you turn the first page. It took me a little bit to figure out who Grace was, and then more surprises are about to fall. A book to tear your heart, and again warm it, and you will be quickly be absorbed in the lives of the people and events that follow young Ernest. I received this book through Net Galley and Ballantine Books, and was not required to give a positive revie