My review of A Hundred Small Lessons will follow the publisher’s blurb.
From the author of the highly acclaimed The Railwayman’s Wife, called a “literary and literate gem” by Psychology Today, comes an emotionally resonant and profound new novel of two families, interconnected through the house that bears witness to their lives.
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 uses her “lyrical prose, poetic dialogue, and stunning imagery” (RT magazine) to weave an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.
This book found me at just the right time. But before I get into why I enjoyed A Hundred Small Lessons so much, I feel I need to say that this book wasn’t action packed or full of crazy plot twists — For me, A Hundred Small Lessons was a soft, quiet, reflective read.
I find that as I’m getting older – or as I prefer to say – as I watch my children grow older; I try to be aware and mindful of the multitude of things going on around me. In A Hundred Small Lessons, there are many passages that made me stop and think. Ashely Hay makes many observations that made me realise just how fast my life is moving and that right now, I really don’t stop to reflect as much as I want to.
There is so much normal life in this book, and I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. Hay’s does a superb job of writing about the minutia, the daily routines and motherly worries! As Hay writes about how Lucy “looses-it” and needs a mini-vacation; I thought to myself and smiled “been there!” My life has taken many turns these past few months and reading this was a wonderful escape. It’s a slow read, not because it’s hard to get into but because of the way I savoured it.
Even though the story centers on two women, both in different stages in their lives, I enjoyed how Ashley Hay anchored their story around the house. But even more, I loved how the characters and different bits of the story line were interconnected; the painting, the pictures, the flood, the little girl with the red hair. It was wonderful to see how each person came to terms with what was going on. Ultimately, I felt like a little bird, looking into their lives.
Lucy made me think of many things I felt as a young mother whereas reading Elsie reminded me of the wonderful secrets I keep that I will forever hold close to my heart. I really do think that the quietest people are the ones that have the most to tell – well, if they are so inclined to do so.
If you enjoy connecting with characters, I know you will appreciate A Hundred Small Lessons.
A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay – Release date November 28, 2017
Published by Atria Books – An imprint of Simon & Schuster
An e-galley of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for my thoughts and honest review.