I finished reading Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel by Jamie Ford just in time to meet him at my local library. And I just bought his other two books, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (a bestseller), and Songs of Willow Frost so I could get them signed by him before reading them too.
The themes of his books appear to revolve around Asian immigrants in Seattle and the stories are on the “sentimental” side, maybe a bit too much for me. But I did still really enjoy this book, which is about a young boy, Ernest, who is auctioned off at the 1902 Worlds Fair to a lady who runs a brothel. The boy ends up loving his new and glamorous life as a houseboy and later a driver for this brothel.
When they visit the fair again as a group:
“Ernest wished there had been a photographer nearby. He would have loved to keep this image forever. They looked like some kind of crazy family, part elegance, part circus, off on a weekend outing.”
He ends up falling in love with two of the younger girls there and has to watch helplessly as they are both come of age into the lifestyle they have grown up into. But in his anger he still understands this:
“I guess there’s a difference between the body and the soul. You can buy a body, but the heart…He shook his head…”The heart, you can’t even rent.”
A theory was presented in this book by one of the girls he loves, which I keep coming back to:
“My theory,” Maisie said, “is that the best, worst, happiest, saddest, scariest, and most memorable moments are all connected…So tell me what your worst moment was–the saddest moment of your whole life — and I’ll connect that memory to your best moment.”
And she does.
All in all, this – my first read from my fall & winter reading list – is solid, and I look forward to meeting Jamie Ford this week as well as reading his other books.
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