Love and Other Consolation Prizes (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Jamie Ford has written a delightful, heart-wrenching, and yet hopeful, tale of love and fate, loosely based on a true story.

Sold by his mother at a young age, Ernest is shipped from his home in China to Oregon and raised as a servant in a boarding school. He knows that he is incredibly lucky to get an education, but is also determined to move on someday. Then, he is surprised to find himself raffled off at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and “won” by Madame Flora, the owner of an upscale brothel in town.

As an errand runner, Ernest is happy where he landed and finds himself falling in love with two girls: Maisie, the madam’s daughter, and Fahn, a scullery maid in the house. From there, it’s a beautiful coming of age tale centered around these three close friends. 

Balancing past with present, as Ernest’s journalist daughter digs into her parents’ past in 1962, the mystery of who Ernest married, and what happened along the way, builds throughout. Wonderfully written with fascinating characters.

— Lindsey


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.

Advance praise for Love and Other Consolation Prizes

"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

About the Author

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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780804176750
ISBN-10: 0804176752
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Pages: 320
Language: English