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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling 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 12-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 Consolation Prizes is an enchanting tale about innocence and devotion - in a world where everything, and everyone, is for sale.

©2017 Jamie Ford (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)
"An evocative, heartfelt, beautifully crafted story that shines a light on a fascinating, tragic bit of forgotten history." (Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Performance
  • Story

Incredible listen

Not only was the story so fantastic I found myself wondering what the characters were doing when we were apart, but the performance was equally fantastic. Sometimes a reader can distract me from the story if the performance is off but that was not the case, at all! Zeller brought each character out of Ford’s perfectly written tale and kissed life into them! I couldn’t believe how quickly I had listened to it! So, I listened to it again. I didn’t want the book to end! I became so invested in each character I wanted to be privy to the next chapter of their lives.... and the next and the next.
Ford has the ability to pluck a moment in history and weave an entire life out of it for his characters and for you! Lucky us!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Intriguing. Hard to put down.

It opened my eyes to another lifestyle and the good and bad aspects of life. I found myself wanting to listen at every opportunity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jt
  • United States
  • 01-17-18

Never ending

At chapter 37 I thought it was ending but NO on it went
Never ending and drag on to sheer boredom..narration was OK

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  • Monica
  • Gig Harbor, WA, United States
  • 11-05-17

a bit corny for my liking

This was my book club choice, and I decided to listen because I had a feeling it would be a light read. I am apparently in the minority here, as I was completely bored and could not wait for it to end. While the lives of some of the characters should have seemed incredibly bleak, I never felt sad. Ernest was too perfect/goody-goody,, and the "employees" of the Tenderloin never complained about their lives other than a few desperately wanting to be "upstairs girls.". Is that believable? The reader was good, but her somewhat breathless narration bugged me. She tried to make everything sound sad and romantic, but it didn't work for me.

Spoiler alerts: How realistic is it that Mrs Irvine kept showing up everywhere? And Mr. Turnbull giving Miss Flora a car and paying $5000 for Maisie's virginity? (I looked it up and that is $117,000 in today's dollars.) And I can't believe Fawn/Gracie never told Ernest about the cause of the fire, and that he never asked, until she was in her 60's.

  • Overall
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Fascinating, Heartbreaking, Enlightening

Ford has again presented a wonderful love story, historical novel, and generational family saga (or two) for us to savor . Ernest is faced with difficult decisions and chooses well, showing a clear understanding of right and wrong, actions and consequences, even with a pitiable of lack of love in his childhood.. Maisie and Fahn -- opposites in every way -- face choices and hopes for the future that are even more complicated. Ford excels in drawing out dramatic tension in both the past and present settings of Ernest's life. I love audiobooks, but I may invest in a printed copy so I can read this again, savoring every word.