Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel
by Jamie Ford

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 ...

Overall rating:


How would you rate this book?

Member ratings

  "Love and Other Consolation Prizes" by Silversolara (see profile) 09/12/17

Leaving your mother at age five, going with a stranger, and living in the bowels of a boat to America was not something anyone would wish for a child but what was done back in 1909.

Yung had to leave his mother because they both were starving, and her hope was for a better life for her son.

When Yung got to America, his name was changed to Ernest, and he spent his first few years at a school where he was always the underling even though a rich woman, Mrs. Irvine, was paying for his room and board.

One day Mrs. Irvine told Ernest she was taking him to the World's Fair. She didn't take him to enjoy it, but to be auctioned off in a raffle as a strong, healthy boy.

Ernest ended up being won by the owner of a brothel as a houseboy, and the place he met his wife.

Now his childhood and his life before children and marriage were coming to light. His daughter is a reporter and is investigating the World's Fair and stories she heard about those who attended. She knew her father had been there and wants to know everything.

Ernest didn't want to tell his daughter his story because then she would find out about her mother's life at that time. It was a life that wasn't anything to be proud of. Gracie was now suffering from dementia, and Ernest was hoping she wouldn't accidentally remember the life she led when she was young and tell her daughter.

We follow Ernest from his childhood to present day and learn what life was like for him in both times. We get a well-researched glimpse into everyday living during the early 1900’s as well as the life in a brothel.

LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES is another marvelous, stunning, beautifully told story by Jamie Ford with characters that will steal your heart.

Mr. Ford knows how to tell a story and keep your interest with his meticulous historical research, his history lesson, and his superb writing style.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - I hope you are able to also read it. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and Net Galley in return for an honest review.

  "love and other consolation prizes" by Carolynr (see profile) 10/14/17

If you liked the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I think you'll like this. It s an easy ready. But from the first chapter I did not want to put down this book. Sign of a good choice for me. And it was so interesting to read about that time period in Seattle. Definitely a good read.

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.

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.

  "" by Campfield (see profile) 11/15/17

  "Good, but a bit contrived." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 01/01/18

Love and Other Consolation Prizes, Jamie Ford, Author; Emily Woo Zeller, Narrator
In 1902, Ernest Yung, about five years old, was abandoned by his mother in a cemetery in China. After watching his mother smother and bury his baby sister, he was told that an uncle would come and collect him and take him to a better life in America. His Chinese mother and his white missionary father had not been married. He was of mixed blood and was an outcast. His father had been murdered by those who did not accept them or want the likes of them in China. In actuality, those who were biracial were not welcome in America either. Because of a terrible drought, they were starving; the growing numbers of the bodies of those murdered were washing up daily in the nets of the fishermen. Alone and unable to care for her children, his mother saw no other way out. She gave him her only precious possession, a tarnished metal hairpin which was topped by a jade bird that symbolized peace and harmony.
Ernest Yung was taken with other forsaken or unwanted children to a ship owned by a man who kept them hidden in its bowels. They had been sold in order to save their own lives or those of the others in their family. Their parents had little notion of what would become of them but thought anything was better than the fate that awaited them all in China. Some believed that they had little choice but to sell their children in order to save the others in the family. What the children who were secretly transported in the underbelly of the ship, its cargo hold, experienced, was dreadful. The conditions were appalling and some were abused, not only by the crew but also by the other children who were bullies. Still, most often, whatever happened to Ernest, he was grateful to have a full belly and so withstood all of the hardships that came his way. He seemed older than his five or six years and was lucky to survive the voyage which took him to Seattle, Washington where he became, “young Ernest” to some, and Ernest Young to the world.
After almost drowning at the journey’s end, he was rescued and placed in a children’s home but was eventually removed from there by his patron, Mrs. Irvine, a member of a group called the Mothers of Virtue. She placed him in a private school and undertook his care. When he angered her, in 1909, by asking if he could transfer to a school that might be more welcoming to him, this pious, pompous woman offered him up as a raffle prize at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. She deemed him ungrateful, however, she was horrified by the woman who won the raffle and so tried to convince him to run away or return to her care.
For Ernest, the worst day of his life was the day he left his mother and the best was the day that Dame Florence Nettleton won him and took him to live in The Tenderloin where she was Madame Flora, the owner of a high class house of ill repute. He had a job as a houseboy and a lifestyle with friends and “family” around him. He no longer felt he was alone or an outcast. Although, on several occasions, Mrs. Irvine tried to convince him to leave the house of decadence, he refused to leave the Tenderloin where he was finally happy.
While there, he became reacquainted with Fahn who had actually been on the ship with him and now worked as a maid in Madame’s house. As a little child, when they were both in the bottom of the ship that took them to America, he had promised to marry her. He and Fahn became fast friends once again, and together with Maisie, also called the Mayflower, they were a happy threesome. Maisie was the Madame’s “little sister”, Margaret.
The novel is bookended between two world’s fairs, the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909 and the Century 21 Exposition in 1962. Both were held in Seattle. Both framed Ernest Young’s life, and it is through his memories that the four plus decades between the fairs, is revealed as a story about love and devotion in a world ruled by puritanical morality and racial prejudice. It is about poverty, sexual decadence, sexually transmitted disease and its devastating effects, child trafficking, the degradation of women, and the gross injustice and discrimination that existed. It is about the lack of civil rights for women and children and the hypocrisy of a society where the idea of “do as I say and not as I do” governed the behavior of those who were rich, famous and powerful.
The way in which Ernest faced his challenges illustrated his deeply loyal and remarkable character. How he lived his life and survived all of the obstacles put in his way were a testimony to his devotion to those he cared for and the courage that he showed when he had to protect them. Because he was so easily pleased by simple things and asked for so little for himself, it was hard not to admire him. In the forty intervening years between the World’s Fairs, Ernest and the woman he still loved, Gracie, had two children, Hanny and Juju. Eventually, they had a life of contentment in America. Perhaps it was secretly a bit unconventional, but from the outside, it was quite ordinary. They were happy, although the book was at times terribly sad.
The book is based on a past reality. A boy named Ernest was really raffled off at the AYP, although there is little known about what happened to him in the future, since he was not claimed. As a novel, I found it a bit disjointed, overlong, and a bit contrived, but as a love story, it was beautiful in its constancy.

  "" by LoveOfBooks (see profile) 02/24/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/14/18

  "" by Patsye (see profile) 06/16/18

  "" by wileygreen (see profile) 07/31/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 09/25/18

  "Highly Recommended" by bkmnmpl (see profile) 10/09/18

Another fantastic piece of historic fiction by Jamie Ford! He draws readers in with realistic characters and intriguing plots based upon nuggets of real history. I am always entertained by his storytelling, and I always learn something new. I highly recommend this title!

  "" by kayaking2 (see profile) 10/15/18

  "" by Karoly (see profile) 11/06/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/23/19

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/31/19

  "" by Sescilj (see profile) 05/30/19

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 08/07/19

  "" by Jbailey17 (see profile) 07/24/21

Remember me

Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.



Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...