Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: "A Hundred Small Lessons" by Ashley Hay

A Hundred Small Lessons Ashley Hay
Date Finished: November 20, 2017
Date Published (US): November 28, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours

You  might enjoy this book if you like: Dual narrative novels, Australian literature, character-driven stories

When Elsie Gormley leaves the Brisbane house in which she has lived for more than sixty years, Lucy Kiss and her family move in, eager to establish their new life. As they settle in, Lucy and her husband Ben struggle to navigate their transformation from adventurous lovers to new parents, taking comfort in memories of their vibrant past as they begin to unearth who their future selves might be. But the house has secrets of its own, and the rooms seem to share recollections of Elsie’s life with Lucy.

In her nearby nursing home, Elsie traces the span of her life—the moments she can’t bear to let go and the places to which she dreams of returning. Her beloved former house is at the heart of her memories of marriage, motherhood, love, and death, and the boundary between present and past becomes increasingly porous for both her and Lucy.

Over the course of one hot Brisbane summer, two families’ stories intersect in sudden and unexpected ways. Through the richly intertwined narratives of two ordinary, extraordinary women, Ashley Hay weaves an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.

My Thoughts:
I have always felt that certain places held their own memories.  Because of that, the premise of this book--two women tied together by one home appealed to me on a number of levels.  We had the setting as an actual character, which I find fascinating, and we have a dual narrative, which I frequently enjoy.

What struck me most about this book was the prose.  Hay's language is absolutely beautiful.  I've never been to Australia, much less Brisbane, but the world she creates is so vivid that I could almost hear the kookaburras outside.  Hay also brings into the souls of not just Elsie and Lucy, but also their spouses.  This is a strongly character-driven novel, which is something that I appreciate.

I found that I related to both Elsie and Lucy, but in different ways.  I connected with Lucy on a personal level--my children are slightly older than her son, but not so much older that I don't remember those days of being home with them all day and how it sometimes seemed like too much.  On the other hand, I'm seeing the other end of life with my older relatives and I see in Elsie things that they have experienced.

Both stories in this novel held my attention and, honestly, I could see both of them standing on their own.  I felt that Lucy's story had more direction than Elsie's, but Elsie's tale was far more reflective.  I think any reader will find something to to delight here.  My only criticism is that I wish that the stories intertwined more.  When I finished this, I felt like I had read two stories, and I wish I felt like I had read one novel.

While my ultimate feeling about this book was not what I had hoped for, this is still a novel I'd recommend to other readers who enjoy character-driven stories.  Also, if you can't afford a trip to Australia, this book might just transport you there for a while.

 About the Author:
Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of the novels The Body in the Clouds and The Railwayman’s Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. She has also written four nonfiction books. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

You can connect with Ashley on Facebook or her website.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this book.

If you would like to read more about this book, please check out some of the other stops on the blog tour.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of this book to giveaway to one of my readers (US and Canada only).  To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway will be open until midnight (Pacific Time) on December 10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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