My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours who invited me to take part in the blog tour for this book which has been on my radar for some time! My thanks also go to the publishers for providing a review ebook. This review forms my honest opinion.
A debut novel of unlikely friendship, in which two women, one young, one old, meet in art class while in hospital and decide to celebrate their well-lived lives through paintings.
Fiercely alive and brimming with tenderness, this uplifting story revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we are most in need.
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 their combined one hundred years, to the end of their days.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is simply beautiful. Heart-rending and packed full of emotion, but also filled to the brim with friendship, joy and love.
Seventeen year old Lenni, sassy and full of life, is dying of a terminal illness. During her time in hospital she meets 83 year old Margot, and, facilitated by the hospital art room, they begin a project to span their combined century. Their friendship deepens as they reveal their deepest secrets to one another.
I don’t know if I’m being drawn to these kinds of books right now, or if they’re just plentiful – but either way, I adore them. Life affirming stories of kindness and friendship intertwined with a wonderful cast of characters. Both Lenni and Margot, both individually and collectively, sparkle throughout. The highs and lows of their lives told through flashbacks as they complete their project, shape each character so that by the end they are no longer a character formed of words on a piece of paper, but a living breathing person.
The relationship between Lenni and Margot goes beyond a simple friendship, at some point a surrogacy of sorts is suggested, but I felt that there was an instant recognition in each other that they both had depths of loneliness to fill. Similarly with Father Arthur, the hospital chaplain. Despite his claims to be busy, Lenni happens upon him in Chapel almost always alone. His and Lenni’s conversations almost always had me giggling to myself! The three form a beautiful relationship – they love and care for one another, and at a time when some days I despair at the state of humanity in the world, it brought many a tear to my eye.
Margot’s flashbacks take up much of the novel, from her childhood in Glasgow, following her to London and eventually back to Glasgow where she meets Lenni. She finds love, suffers loss and experiences life. And yet, even at the grand age of 83, there are aspects of her life unresolved, life still to be lived – and I loved this. That she wasn’t just a rehashed stereotype sat wrapped in her cardigan in a hospital chair, she was vivid and alive and she wants to keep living her very best life.
There were elements of the novel that I found hard to understand on a human level – that being the situation with Lenni and her family. I could not wrap my head around it at all. Whilst it allowed the space and time for Lenni to develop these friendships, it also just felt very wrong and I felt so angry. I was willing to push these misgivings away however, because I loved Lenni so much.
This is a stunning book filled of everything I needed right now. Friendship, love and a sense of belonging are here in abundance and I think Lenni and Margot will live on in my mind long after today.
About the Author
Marianne Cronin was born in 1990. She studied English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she’s not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv and stand up in the West Midlands, where she lives.
Her debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is to be published around the world and is being adapted into a feature film by Sony/Columbia Pictures. It has been sold in 25 territories to date.