ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
I’m reviewing an amazing book today, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin. This is a debut novel due to be published on 18th February by Doubleday. My thanks to Susan Armstrong for very kindly sending me a proof copy of the book for review purposes.
Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.
Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.
To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.
As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.
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 them most.
Sometimes along comes a book that is absolutely perfect in every way. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is that book for me. Not a word is wasted or out of place, and there was never, not for one second, a moment when I wanted to skip a bit or thought a section didn’t work. It really is just perfect.
Lenni is 17, Margot is 83. Between them they have 100 years of memories. They meet in hospital where Lenni is on the May Ward (everybody knows that is not a good place to be) and Margot is on a neighbouring ward. An unusual meeting becomes an unlikely, yet beautiful, friendship and after joining the hospital’s art therapy class they decide to paint a picture for every year of their lives.
What this leads to is the sharing of their personal stories, with each other and with the reader. Inevitably Margot has the most stories to tell but Lenni also has her fair share. Some stories are uplifting, some are heartbreaking, but each helps to build up the overall picture. I thought the author did some very clever weaving, bringing some strands full circle in ways I didn’t expect, and her expert storytelling made each one completely breath-taking.
The two main characters are simply stunning creations. I started the book laughing out loud at Lenni’s dry humour, particular with the hospital priest, Father Arthur, and ended it crying. But for all that it’s Lenni’s and Margot’s stories that are the focus, each and every supporting character has their place, and is just as much a part of what makes this such an amazing read. This is exactly my kind of book, character led with dips into the past drip-feeding the story to me.
Why is it that the books that I love the most are the hardest to write about? Is it because I know that nothing I say can ever do them justice? I simply cannot put into words how much I loved this book and what an impact it made on me. It’s a wonderful story of lives lived, however long they might be, and shows how everything that you experience, good or bad, makes you who you are. It is a tender exploration of friendship and love in all their different forms, beautifully written by Marianne Cronin, with characters who will stay with me. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
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 in the West Midlands, where she lives.
Her debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is to be published in twenty-five territories and film rights have been acquired by Sony Pictures with Barry Josephson attached to produce.