A Hundred Small Lessons By Ashley Hay – A Review

Publisher: Two Roads

This book was such a treat to read. It came at a time when I’d been reading lots of high energy, heavily plot based, action packed books and was the perfect antidote to high drama.

This is a character focussed gem of a story based around two separate families living in the same house over different time periods. The particular focus being on the two women of the households.

The story opens with Elsie Gormley lying on the floor of her family home, a house she has lived in for over 60 years with her husband Clem and their twin children Donny and Elaine. Elsie has suffered a fall and her family realise she is no longer able to look after herself alone at home and move her into a housing facility.

The house is sold to Lucy and Ben and their young toddler son Tom. Lucy develops a kind of fascination with Elsie, the woman who’s house she’s now living in and often talks to her in her head. When she discovers a box of old photographs of the family in the attic she feels closer still to Elsie. She becomes convinced that Elsie is coming back in the night to visit the house but her husband Ben remains unconvinced and even begins to get annoyed with Lucy for developing such a fascination with the old woman.

As the story develops we learn about Elsie’s life in the house, bringing up her family with Clem her devoted husband. We flit between the points of view of Elsie and Clem. Seeing their family through their own eyes.

Lucy in the present day is struggling with new motherhood, with their recent relocation to Brisbane and her changing marriage. What was once a quite passionate union has changed into something a little more settled and she isn’t quite sure if she’s losing herself. She is on a state of high alert around Tom the baby and lives an anxious life, worrying about the smallest of things and trying to keep her family safe.

I really enjoyed the little nuances in this story, the small tenuous links between the families and their histories. This a fascinating character study, especially where relationships are concerned and deals beautifully with marriage, mother and child bonds and friendship. The imagery is lovely too, with depictions of the landscape, flowers and animals native to Australia.

This is a heartwarming tale of family ties through the years, whilst it’s not soppy it’s just the right amount of sentimental and I found myself really bonding with each of the characters.

Such a joy to read.

Thank you to Two Roads and Bookbridgr for the review copy.

See you soon.

Bookish Chat xxx

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