Love and Other Consolation Prizes
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 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
“An evocative, heartfelt, beautifully crafted story that shines a light on a fascinating, tragic bit of forgotten history, this is Jamie Ford at his storytelling best.”
author of The Nightingale
“In this sweeping, big-hearted 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 (in typical Jamie Ford fashion) 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.”
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 fairs, and peopled it with colorful, brave characters we care deeply about in this masterful job of storytelling.”
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.”
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.”
author of Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy
“Only Jamie Ford could take a snippet of a true story about a child offered as a raffle prize at the 1909 Seattle World’s Fair and spin it into a dazzling tale of love and family and ultimately hope. Love and Other Consolation Prizes has the big generous heart Ford always brings to his novels and fans will rejoice in it.”
author of The Book That Matters Most
“Heartbreaking, wondrous, triumphant.”
author of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
“An epic and touching love story of a raffled-off orphan boy named Ernest and the two girls he loves—one for now, one forever. Set against the backdrop of old Seattle, Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a tenderly defiant testimony to the soaring value of a human being, even the most forgotten among us.”
author of The Book of Polly