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.
I was quite enchanted by the setting of this book and the amount of historical knowledge I gained reading about the World's Fair.
Especially as Ernest is an immigrant coming from nothing, Seattle is mystical to read about and I very much enjoyed all of the details of the politics of the time and the influence that various people from different backgrounds had, especially when hypocrisies were exposed and future implications highlighted.
The timeline worked quite well. The book is in a manner a mystery, as our view of Ernest's wife flipflops and evolves. One of Ernest's daughters is a journalist which adds a fascinating aspect also. While the meat of the story is in the 1910s, the elements from the present day that are included serve to give the book a little more momentum.
I felt like most of the characters had their own motives and desires which made the story all the more intriguing to read. I loved how characters that I thought I would never read about popped up again and grew up in their own manners.
At points this was a slow read, but it was solid nonetheless. This book was worth reading simply for the historical aspects and for the way that the World's Fairs were brought to life, and that an intriguing exploration of characters and growing up was included made it even better.
To know this was based on a true story makes it all the more charming and romantic.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.