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.
I read and love many books each year, but it is rare that I say, if you read just one, please consider a particular title. Well today I am saying just that, because The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin is an extraordinary novel, moving and heart warming, beautifully written, full of wisdom and with two heroines who are perfect in everyway.
Seventeen year old Lenni who is living on the terminal ward of a Glasgow Hospital meets eighty-three year old Margot, a patient from the next ward and they form a friendship that will melt your heart. It did mine! Why? Because this novel is full of two very precious things, love and friendship. The writer has taken this theme and woven around it, a story about how when you make a connection with another human being, it is the greatest gift of all. The writing is tender and yet honest, Marianne Cronin, doesn’t pull cheap punches, she writes honestly about how death and illness don’t just affect the old and how coming to terms with our mortality is a painful and yet necessary part of life. She writes about how love is fluid and that you don’t have to be related to someone to think of them as family, of how sometimes in our darkest moments, we are truly at our most inspiring!
She takes a original idea and has created what for me is one of the finest debuts novels I have read in a long time. Her characters are so finely drawn, that I felt that as Margot sits outside the bedsit looking down the street, I could reach out and touch her, sit down next to her and place my hand in hers. When Lenni is getting angry at a nurse who insists she sits in a wheelchair, I wanted to stand behind her and cry out, don’t crush her spirit, encourage her rebellion and never make her feel she is fragile. The way Marianne Cronin writes about how both characters tell their stories through art and storytelling, to each other and those that come to care about them, brims with a tenderness that works because her writing made me love Lenni and Margot. She weaves the past in and out of the present, connects us to them and creates a relationship with both that made me care, and I felt that I could relate to their friendship on a deeply human level. Beyond the fiction , I believed in them and I believed because she made me care.
Few books reduce me to tears. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller did, Tin Man by Sarah Winman as well The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain. The One Hundred years of Lenni and Margot joins that list and will stay with me, because the writing haunts my reading soul. I could read sections of it over and over and over and never tire of the story, the celebration of friendship and life. Most of all because Lenni and Margot’s lives together represent storytelling at it’s very finest.
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 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 a major Hollywood studio.