"" Writer's Wanderings: Books For The Road - Love And Other Consolation Prizes

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Books For The Road - Love And Other Consolation Prizes

No apologies. I am a fan of Jamie Ford. He is not a prolific author but I have read all three of his books now and am eagerly anticipating another. I can understand why the books take a while to write. In a word, homework. He does his homework in researching the historical background for his books. This latest, Love And Other Consolation Prizes, revolves around two World Fairs held in Seattle, WA. One was in 1909, the other in 1962.

As Ford says in his Author's Note in the back of the book, "my de facto muse seems to be a never-ending appetite for lost history--the need to constantly turn over rocks and look at the squishy things underneath." And one could certainly say there were squishy things under this historical rock.

The story revolves around the life of a boy, Ernest, who was raffled off at the 1909 WF. He was brought to this country by a slave trade that bought children in China and sold them or indentured them to those shall we say on the more shaded side of life here on the west coast. While this was history, I couldn't help but think of the problems we have today with underground sex slave organizations.

Eventually Ernest and a girl who was on the same ship end up at one of the classier brothels of Seattle back in the early 1900s. Now this could have been a dicey story that I would have put down if he had treated it any differently. While he doesn't sugar coat it so much that you don't feel the pain and the anxiety of the times, including all the groups opposed to the seedy side of life that was a part of Seattle then (and probably now) who marched and threatened but didn't seem to actually make life any better for those caught in the life style that for some was their only hope of survival.

Ernest and Gracie and Maisie (another girl whose mother ran the brothel) become great friends. Ford takes the reader through their journey by contrasting their lives in 1962 with their early years in 1909. I was afraid of getting to the end and finding a resolution that would disappoint me but Ford came through with a great ending that satisfied my involvement with the characters.

Great read to take along wherever you are going. Just be aware that while he handles the story with great sensitivity, it is still a story that might not appeal to those who may not want to look at the more shady side of life no matter how redemptive.

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