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Love and Other Consolation Prizes    by Jamie Ford order for
Love and Other Consolation Prizes
by Jamie Ford
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

In Love and Other Consolation Prizes, a young half-breed in China loses his sister and mother and then his country at age five when he is sent on a ship to Seattle. Taken into an orphanage where he gets the name Ernest and spends several unhappy years, he ends up being the prize at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909. The winning ticket is held by Madam Flora, the owner of an upscale bordello. Here Ernest learns about life, especially about what it means to live in a bordello.

Since Ernest is always protective of females, he becomes the girls' favorite houseboy, and along the way he falls in love with two of them. The adventures he has allow him (and us) to reflect on what it means for humans to be bought and sold, especially since that was his experience as well. When things begin to fall apart in the bordello, Ernest knows exactly what he must do to save his girl, and we only find out at the end whom he ended up with.

Jamie Ford has a unique and very beautiful way of writing that flows so easily and seems so warm but not sentimental, an unusual trait for a modern writer. Several of his characters feel like they don't belong anywhere, and he is able to depict what this is like in a most caring way. The story he tells is realistic; there are happy and sad times, but reading about those makes the consolations even more moving.

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