Love And Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel by Jamie FordLove And Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel by Jamie Ford

Love And Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel

byJamie Ford

Hardcover | September 12, 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
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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Title:Love And Other Consolation Prizes: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.52 × 6.36 × 1.18 inPublished:September 12, 2017Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804176752

ISBN - 13:9780804176750

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not everyone's cup of tea. The idea germinates from a yellowed newspaper report about a baby being raffled off at the Seattle World's Fair in 1910 and no-one coming forth to claim the prize. Flash forward to the 1960's and once again the World Fair is in Seattle and the raffled child is back for a visit to this latest edition of the fair. A great deal has happened in half a century and we see three particular lives seen in flashback and through the eyes of hindsight. It is a sad tale of abused youth, the power of wealth, selfless love, the powerlessness of poverty, the debauchery of men. I was drawn into the story and uncomfortable at its end. I'd like to think that life is as it's described - a cup of tea. "Water is Yin. Fire is Yang. And tea is a perfect expression of both. Both sides of life, hot and cold, light and dark, not as opposites, but as complimentary parts of each other. Life is about balancing the good and the bad, the past and the present. ...Sometimes you need to feel the sadness, you need to feel everything to finally leave it behind, to have peace. Happiness, sadness, like all things, they both come to an end." While the novel's three protagonists experience happiness, their lives are mired in sadness - a sadness wrecked upon them by the inhumanity of their fellow man. What is uncomfortable at story end is that the same sadness continues to wreck the lives of so many innocents today. A well crafted and engaging story that shows the brutality visited on the innocent by those in power. When will we learn?
Date published: 2018-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Two World's Fairs 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 review.
Date published: 2017-09-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Love And Other Consolation Prizes A good story though I believe the females point of views would have made it even better. #plumreview I received this through giveaway.
Date published: 2017-08-21

Read from the Book

Overture(1962)4Ernest 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.

Bookclub Guide

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 Girls1. 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).

Editorial Reviews

“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 . . . inspired this very absorbing and moving novel. Highly recommended.”—Historical Novel Society (Editors’ choice) “Another winner . . . Ford has a wonderful gift. He nimbly takes the reader into forgotten pieces of history . . . with characters so real they will stay with you for some time to come.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star“An evocative, heartfelt, beautifully crafted story that shines a light on a fascinating, tragic bit of forgotten history, this is Ford at his storytelling best.”—Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale “In this sweeping, bighearted novel—inspired by the true story of a twelve-year-old boy raffled off as a prize at the 1909 Seattle World Fair—we encounter a cast of colorful characters, fascinating historical details, and insights about morality, race, and culture that deepen and expand the story. . . . Utterly charming.”—Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World and Orphan Train “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 “A gripping story about the unpredictability of life and, above all, the incredible power of love to heal even the most shameful wounds . . . Ford has created a fascinating world, bookended by Seattle’s two world’s fairs, and peopled it with colorful, brave characters we care deeply about in this masterful job of storytelling.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue “Irresistibly magnificent . . . How does a novel genius top himself? Jamie Ford’s newest takes an extraordinary moment in history, where vice lives alongside innocence, and transforms it into a dazzling, hold-your-breath story about the families we make and the ones we are thrust into, about who we are and who we dreamed we could be.”—Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World “Soaring, heart-wrenching, troubling, funny . . . Ford has masterfully used a strange, tragic footnote from history to transport the reader back in time.”—Karen Abbott, author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy