After a bad fall, Elsie Gormley has no choice but to leave her beloved house to live in a nearby nursing home. The house is sold, and a new family moves in—Lucy, her husband Ben, and their son. Right from the start, Lucy feels a connection to Elsie after discovering items she left behind, and often thinks of her and wishes she knew more about her. As Lucy settles in to her new home with hopes for the future, Elsie is caught up in memories of the past. Her memories are often focused on the house and the life she lived there as a young bride, mother, and—finally—a widowed grandmother.
What struck me most about A Hundred Small Lessons was the focus on motherhood. I remember what it was like to have a toddler in the house, and how overwhelming it could be. I also know what it’s like to look back at those years and wonder how they went by so fast… missing one thing, regretting another. It was easy for me to identify with the way both women felt, which was very nice and kept me invested in them throughout the entire story.
This was a sweet read, and I enjoyed it very much.
I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of Atria Books.
About the Book
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 weaves an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.
About the Author
A writer for more than 20 years, her essays and short stories have appeared in volumes including the Griffith Review, Best Australian Essays (2003), Best Australian Short Stories (2012), and Best Australian Science Writing (2012), and have been awarded various accolades in Australia and overseas. In 2016, she received the Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.