Title: Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Author: Jamie Ford
Genre: Historical Novel
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Allison & Busby (12th September 2017)
1909, Seattle. At the World’s Fair a half-Chinese boy called Ernest Young is raffled off as a prize. He ends up working as a servant in Seattle’s Red Light District and falls in love with Maisie, the daughter of the falmboyant madam, and Fahn, a Japanese maid sold into servitude.
On the eve of the new World’s Fair in 1962, Ernest’s reporter daughter looks back into the past and prompts him to consider the memories he made with his beloved wide and their tragic past.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES is the latest novel from Jamie Ford, and the first of his works I have ever read. The narrative splits itself between events at the turn of the twentieth century and the 1960s. LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES tells the story of Ernest Young a half-Chinese boy who is raffled off as a prize at the 1909 Seattle World’s Fair. We follow Ernest’s life through events that are linked around two Seattle World’s Fairs, giving us a picture of two different worlds. Ford tells the story of a man who led a complex life and who loves his wife.
This story intrigued me as soon as I read the blurb. LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES didn’t quite sound like anything I had come across before. Jamie Ford did not disappoint. I thought Ernest’s story was interesting and whilst the love triangle didn’t interest me (they never do) I did enjoy the jumping between the past and the present. It was interesting to see the contrast between the world of Ernest’s youth and the world sixty years later. A lot changed in Ernest’s lifetime, but a lot stayed the same too. If the blurb intrigues you, then this book is definitely worth checking out.
LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES is more than a love story, it’s the story of a man caught between worlds. The bulk of the 1900s storyline focuses on Ernest’s life post-raffle, but Ford also shows his life before the World’s Fair. It is a definite study in contrasts. Ernest’s world in the 1960s is a much more settled one, but one that is also filled with secrets his reporter daughter unwittingly disturbs. By giving the reader the two narrative lines Ford allows us to get to know Ernest and to see how complex life has always been for him.
LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES is a beautiful, though at times hard, read. Ford paints a very vivid picture of Ernest’s life, and at times it can be quite harrowing. Despite this, I really enjoyed seeing Seattle through his eyes in two very different time periods. I also really liked Ernest, he seemed like a real stand up kind of guy. I enjoyed his relationships with both Maisie and Fahn; I wish that there was more of the three of them together. The final chapter of the book brings things neatly to a close, but it left me a little sad that there wasn’t more.
Whilst LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES was not a book I loved, it was one that I really enjoyed. If you’re looking to see a different side to twentieth century USA then this should be one you’re adding to your list. I think this would also be a good pick if you want to be a bit more diverse in your reading. Whether you’re a fan of the romance genre or not it is well worth picking this book up as Ford introduces you to a different world and time.