The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about another book set in a hospital (yesterday I reviewed Before I Saw You). Thanks to Random House Transworld Publishers for the opportunity to read and review a digital proof copy of the book via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis

Life is short – no one knows that better than 17 year-old Lenni Petterssen. On the Terminal ward, the nurses are offering their condolences already, but Lenni still has plenty of living to do.

For a start, she has questions about her fate she needs answers to, and stories yet to uncover.

When she meets 83-year-old Margot, a fellow patient in purple pyjamas offering new friendship and enviable artistic skills, Lenni’s life begins to soar in ways she’d never imagined.

As their bond deepens, a world of stories opens up: of wartime love and loss, of misunderstanding and reconciliation, of courage, kindness and joy.

Stories that have led them to the end of their days.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny, and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need it most.

My thoughts:

I did wonder if a book about two terminally ill people was going to be too depressing to read in the middle of another Covid lockdown, but I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed meeting Lenni and Margot. I’ve seen a lot of love for this book from other reviewers on social media, and it was well deserved.

Lenni is an amazing 17 year old, who know that she won’t be leaving the hospital Glasgow. After a difficult relationship with her mother and now terminally ill, she makes friends with Margot in the Rose Room and they decide to create 100 pictures to celebrate their combined ages.

I loved the way the characters interacted in the book, the meetings with poor Father Arthur in the church chapel made me laugh out loud. As the story develops, we find out why Lenni doesn’t have visits from her family and what has happened to Margot in the past, stopping her from using her talent for art. A book about the importance of kindness and friendship, with help from New Nurse, Pippa the art teacher, Paul the porter and Sunny the security guard.

This is a book that made me laugh and cry, full of stories within stories. I raced through the book and didn’t want to put my Kindle down, and was totally lost in the story of Lenni and Margot (sorry to my family!). I look forward to reading more by Marianne Cronin in the future.

A five star read for me.

Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

I’m pleased to be joining the Random Things Tours blog tour for this wonderful debut novel by Emily Houghton. Thank you to Anne Cater for the invitation to join the tour and a proof copy of the book. The book was published in ebook format this week and will be available in hardback next week in the UK.

Synopsis:

CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VENEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. Keeping the curtain around her bed firmly closed, it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?

My thoughts:

I loved the look and sound of this story, with a colourful cover and an intriguing synopsis. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review this debut novel before publication. But would it deliver the escapism I was craving at the start of lockdown 3? Well I’m pleased to say it certainly did.

The style of the book reminded me of The Flatshare, where the story is told by both main characters in alternate chapters. In this story, we have Alfie, a sociable PE teacher recovering from a life changing car accident, who has been keeping the other patients on the rehabilitation ward entertained. Alongside Alfie, hidden away behind curtains is workaholic Alice, who was badly burnt in a work place accident.

Alfie may be recovering from his physical injuries but he is struggling to deal with the emotions of losing friends in the accident and the reaction of loved ones to his injuries. Alice is refusing to look at herself and to allow others to see her. Both have experienced a traumatic event and need support, can they help each other more than the professional staff at the hospital?

I loved this book, quickly I was so involved in the lives of Alfie and Alfie I didn’t want to put the book down and ended up staying up much later than normal to carry on reading. Alfie and Alice became real as they teased each other and gave each other the opportunity to talk about their past and their worries. Life had been difficult for both of them since their accidents and both continued to have ‘bad’ days, made worse when they fell out on a number of occasions.

I liked the fact that this story didn’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make everything perfect. Alfie and Alice had to face up to their ‘new’ lives and to make major decisions, including whether they would stay in contact. As this is a no spoiler review, I will encourage you to read this emotional book to find out what happens to Alfie and Alice.

Thank you to Emily Houghton for a brilliant book to escape into, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Author Bio:

Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer.
She originally comes from Essex but now lives in London. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen.

Emily is available for written features about her experiences and learnings on topics including; dating and the vulnerability of meeting people, self-love, body confidence, processing pain and the physical emotional body connection.

For more information please contact Hayley Barnes, Senior Press Officer, Transworld Publishers: HBarnes@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk | 020 8231 6730