Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

A Novel

Book - 2017
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From the bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet comes a powerful novel, inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.

"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: New York : Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780804176750
Branch Call Number: FORD J
Characteristics: 307 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Jun 01, 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I remember going to the World’s fair in 1962 so that added to my enjoyment, but it’s a good book anyway. I found it hard to put down and stayed up way too late several nights. I liked that Earnest was in love with two girls, and you don’t know until close to the end which one he marries. It goes back and forth very easily from 1909-10 to 1962. It was very interesting reading all the historical details included about the earlier period. Even though it’s about a brothel, there is no bad language or sex in it. I also learned a lot about difficult times were for Chinese in the US, and the selling of children to Americans. While this is not a biography, I don’t doubt that there were children who lived through emense discrimination and hardships.

May 12, 2019

I liked this story of an immigrant Chinese boy/man, set in Seattle, Washington. The story is told from his point of view as a boy and as an adult. Good read.

Nov 28, 2018

A touching and elegant story.

Jun 16, 2018

Sad but sweet story. The Seattle connection adds a lot of interest to it. Very well written. I thought it was more enjoyable than his second book which was just sort of depressing.

May 22, 2018

Extremely well written and loved the Seattle history. I will admit I found the story quite sad and somewhat depressing without any hints of humour to help lighten the difficult but accurate depiction of history.

rthomson1954 Apr 24, 2018

This story is sweet in so many ways. The characters are kind and likeable especially Ernest Young who early on is raffled away at the 1909 Yukon World Exposition and becomes the property of Madam Flora. This might seem like a harsh fate for a boy just reaching adolescence, but the "ladies" at the bordello are kind and nurturing, and he finds encounters loving and caring women as he grows into manhood. The historical depiction of Seattle is interesting and well portrayed, and the movement back and forth between 1909 and 1964 plays out smoothly and tenderly.

Apr 18, 2018

Another wonderful book by Jamie Ford, this time set in Seattle against the backdrops of two World's Fairs, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and the 1962 Century 21 World's Fair. Although fictional, the novel is based on something that really happened: at the AYP, a baby was given away. In Love & Other Consolation Prizes, it's a 12-yr old who's given away, Ernest, a young man who is half Chinese and whose Chinese mother could not afford to keep him. Ernest ends up working as a houseboy in the swankiest brothel in Pioneer Square. The book alternates between his story back in the early part of the 20th Century versus his story in 1962. Is this story too much like Hotel at the Corner of Bitter & Sweet? I didn't care, loved the book!

brookse0518 Dec 31, 2017

This title was interesting enough that I also read Ford's earlier book. I like the way he switches from past to present with good character development.

Dec 30, 2017

An orphan boy called Ernest Young is raffled as a prize at the 1909 Seattle world’s fair. That catches your attention. His new home is the Tenderloin, a classy brothel in the red light district. Years later when the next world’s fair opens there, his journalist daughter wants to mine his memories.

Love Jamie Ford’s writing and his storytelling. Wonderful historical fiction.

Dec 20, 2017

If you loved The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, you’ll enjoy Jamie Ford’s new book. The storyline moves between the Seattle Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 and the 1962 World’s Fair. It’s the story of Ernest a Chinese boy who was sold by his mother and brought to the US. Ending up as the houseboy in a Seattle brothel, he later marries and has two daughters. If you love Seattle history and the part Asians have played in its growth, this book is for you.

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Nov 21, 2017

This is Ford’s third historical novel, this time set in Seattle during the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. Ford opens on the better remembered 1962 fair, and uses it to echo and reflect the main action of 1909. The plot was inspired by a fascinating newspaper clipping from the AYP Expo, advertising the fact that an orphan boy was one of the raffle prizes at the fair. The fate of the real boy is unknown, but in his novel, Ford imagines what might have become of a young half-Chinese boy named Ernest, whose winning ticket is sold to the madam of an infamous brothel. Raised in a Catholic orphanage, Ernest comes to the red light district as the temperance movement is surging in the city, and finds himself caught between the Japanese house girl, Fahn, and Madam Flora’s stubborn daughter, Maisie.


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