Friday, September 3, 2021

Review: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adored this book. It was/is a bit hard to actually explain. Two women, one 17 and the other 83 are in the hospital in what is termed as the terminal ward. They come together to tell the stories of their lives and to help each other. This description that defines the book says it all:

This debut novel from a young British writer is a delight, and not just for its non-linear structure and unconventional chapter lengths, some as short as five sentences. Lenni Pettersson, the 17-year-old protagonist, may be in hospital dying from an undisclosed illness, but her sass and wicked sense of humour – particularly when she devises a scheme to fill the empty pews in the hospital chapel – will have the reader laughing out loud. She is always devising new ways to get sprung from her hospital room, which is how she ends up meeting, befriending and exasperating the chaplain, Father Arthur. She also manages to enrol in an art therapy program for seniors, over the objections of a kind staffer she calls New Nurse. When she meets Margot Macrae, 83, and realizes their ages add up to 100, Lenni dreams up an art project that launches a deep friendship and offers a framework for the book, which unfolds as the unlikely pair reveal themselves to each other.

The beauty of the book lays in its depiction of Margot as a fully drawn character, not a doddering old woman, who is a bit of a rebel herself and has lived a full life. Then there is Lenni, who may be dying, but is trying her damndest to live to the max.

This book poses the central question of our lives: What does it all mean? How can we make our mark? It will have you confronting your mortality with a smile on your face, not to mention the existence of God.

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