“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
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
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 gasoline, drying paint, and a hint of sawdust. He could almost hear carpenters tapping finishing nails as the musicians warmed up.
Saying that Ernest wished he could go inside and partake of the celebration was like saying he wished he could dine alone at Canlis restaurant on Valentine’s Day, cross the Atlantic by himself aboard the Queen Mary, or fly first class on an empty Boeing 707. The scenery and the festive occasion were tempting, but the endeavor itself only highlighted the absence of someone with whom to share those moments.
For Ernest, that person was Gracie, his beloved wife of forty-plus years. They’d known each other since childhood, long before they’d bought a house, joined a church, and raised a family. But now their memories had been scattered like bits of broken glass on wet pavement. Reflections of first kisses, anniversaries, the smiles of toddlers, had become images of a Christmas tree left up past Easter, a package of unlit birthday candles, recollections of doctors and cold hospital waiting rooms.
The truth of the matter was that these days Gracie barely remembered him. Her mind had become a one-way mirror. Ernest could see her clearly, but to Gracie he’d been lost behind her troubled, distorted reflection.
Ernest chewed his lip as he leaned against the vacant Cadillac De Ville that he’d spent the better part of the morning polishing. He felt a sigh of vertigo as he stared up at the newly built Space Needle––the showpiece of the Century 21 Expo––the talk of the town, if not the country, and perhaps the entire world. He was supposed to deliver foreign dignitaries to the opening of the Spanish Village Fiesta, but the visitors had been held up—some kind of dispute with the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. So he came anyway, to try to remember the happier times.
Ernest smiled as he listened to Danny Kaye take the microphone and read a credo of some kind. The Official World’s Fair Band followed the famous actor as they took over the musical duties for the day and began to play a gliding waltz. Ernest counted the time, one-two-three, one-two-three, as he popped his knuckles and massaged the joints where arthritis reminded him of his age—sixty-four, sixty-five, sixty-something, no one knew for sure. The birth date listed on his chauffeur’s permit had been made up decades earlier, as had the one on his old license with the Gray Top Taxi company. He’d left China as a boy—during a time of war and famine, not record keeping.
Ernest blinked as the waltz ended and a bank of howitzers blasted a twenty-one-gun salute somewhere beyond the main entrance, startling him from his nostalgic debridement. The thundering cannons signaled that President Kennedy had officially opened the world’s fair with the closing of a telegraph circuit sent all the way from his desk at the White House. Ernest had read that the signal would be bounced off a distant sun, Cassiopeia, ten thousand light-years away. He looked up at the blanket of mush that passed for a northwestern sky, and made a wish on an unseen star as people cheered and the orchestra began playing the first brassy strains of “Bow Down to Washington” while balloons were released, rising like champagne bubbles. Some of the nearby drivers honked their horns as the Space Needle’s carillon bells began ringing, heralding the space age, a clarion call that was drowned out by the deafening, crackling roar of a squadron of fighter jets that boomed overhead. Ernest felt the vibration in his bones.
When Mayor Clinton and the City Council had broken ground on the fairgrounds three years ago––when a gathering of reporters had watched those men ceremoniously till the nearby soil with gold-plated shovels––that’s also when Gracie began to cry in her sleep. She’d wake and forget where she was. She’d grow fearful and panic.
Dr. Luke had told Ernest and their daughters, with tears in his eyes, “It’s a rare type of viral meningitis.” Dr. Luke always had a certain sense of decorum, and Ernest knew he was lying for the sake of the girls. Especially since he’d treated Gracie when she was young.
“These things sometimes stay hidden and then come back, decades later,” the doctor had said as the two of them stood on Ernest’s front step. “It’s uncommon, but it happens. I’ve seen it before in other patients. It’s not contagious now. It’s just—”
“A ghost of red-light districts past,” Ernest had interrupted. “A ripple from the water trade.” He shook Dr. Luke’s hand and thanked him profusely for the late-night house call and the doctor’s ample discretion regarding Gracie’s past.
Ernest remembered how shortly after his wife’s diagnosis her condition had worsened. How she’d pulled out her hair and torn at her clothing. How Gracie had been hospitalized and nearly institutionalized a month later, when she’d lost her wits so completely that Ernest had had to fight the specialists who recommended she be given electroshock therapy, or worse—a medieval frontal-lobe castration at Western State Hospital, the asylum famous for its “ice pick” lobotomies.
Ernest hung on as Dr. Luke quietly administered larger doses of penicillin until the madness subsided and Gracie returned to a new version of normal. But the damage had been done. Part of his wife—her memory—was a blackboard that had been scrubbed clean. She still fell asleep while listening to old records by Josephine Baker and Edith Piaf. She still smiled at the sound of rain on the roof, and enjoyed the fragrance of fresh roses from the Cherry Land flower shop. But on most days, Ernest’s presence was like fingernails on that blackboard as Gracie recoiled in fits of either hysteria or anger.
I didn’t know the month of the world’s fair groundbreaking would be our last good month together, Ernest thought as he watched scores of wide-eyed fairgoers––couples, families, busloads of students—pouring through the nearby turnstiles, all smiles and awe, tickets in hand. He heard the stadium crowd cheer as a pyramid of water-skiers whipped around the Aquadrome.
To make matters worse, when Gracie had been in the hospital, agents from the Washington State Highway Department had showed up on Ernest’s doorstep. “Hello, Mr. Young,” they’d said. “We have some difficult news to share. May we come in?”
The officials were kind and respectful—apologetic even. As they informed him that his three-bedroom craftsman home overlooking Chinatown, along with his garden and a row of freshly trimmed lilacs in full bloom––the only home he’d ever owned and the place where his daughters took their first steps—all of it was in the twenty-mile urban construction zone of the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma Freeway. The new interstate highway was a ligature of concrete designed to bind Washington with Oregon and California. In less than a week, he and his neighbors had been awarded fair-market value for their properties, along with ninety days to move out, and the right-of-way auctions began.
The government had wanted the land, Ernest remembered, and our homes were a nuisance. So he’d moved his ailing wife in with his older daughter, Juju, and watched from the sidewalk as entire city blocks were sold. Homes were scooped off their foundations and strapped to flatbed trucks to be moved or demolished. But not before vandals and thieves stripped out the oak paneling that Ernest had installed years ago, along with the light fixtures, the crystalline doorknobs, and even the old hot-water heater that leaked in wintertime. The only thing left standing was a blur of cherry trees that lined the avenue. Ernest recalled watching as a crew arrived with a fleet of roaring diesel trucks and a steam shovel. Blossoms swirled on the breeze as he’d turned and walked away.
As a young man, Ernest had carved his initials onto one of those trees along with Gracie’s––and those of another girl too. He hadn’t seen her in forever.
As an aerialist rode a motorcycle on a taut cable stretched from the stadium to the Space Needle, Ernest listened to the whooshing and mechanical thrumming of carnival rides. He caught the aroma of freshly spun cotton candy, still warm, and remembered the sticky-sweet magic of candied apples. He felt a pressing wave of déjà vu.
The present is merely the past reassembled, Ernest mused as he pictured the two girls and how he’d once strolled with them, arm in arm, on the finely manicured grounds of Seattle’s first world’s fair, the great Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, back in 1909. When the city first dressed up and turned its best side to the cameras of the world. He remembered a perfect day, when he fell in love with both girls.
But as Ernest walked to the gate and leaned on the cold metal bars, he also smelled smoke. He heard fussy children crying. And his ears were still ringing with the echoes of the celebratory cannons that had scared the birds away.
He drew a deep breath. Memories are narcotic, he thought. Like the array of pill bottles that sit cluttered on my nightstand. Each dose, carefully administered, use as directed. Too much and they become dangerous. Too much and they’ll stop your heart.
Reading Group Guide
I’ve been in a guys’ book group, called Books & Brews, for six 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 of Lot 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 United States 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 twentieth century has often been glamorized, while Asian prostitution has been demonized. Is there truth behind those cultural tropes? Are our historical perceptions off? What was the reality of those perceptions then—and what are they 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 1980s).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful as ever. Delighted to have read your latest and anxiously await your next.
Nicely written very descriptive
Very poignant story...
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
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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