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Review: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Title: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
Author: Marianne Cronin
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Page Count: 320
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date Published: June 1, 2021
You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Overall Thoughts:

I typically avoid stories with this setting: terminally ill patients forming bonds in hospice care because it brings forth a level of heavy-handed emotional manipulation I dislike in my reads. Rather than finding comfort and joy in the preciousness of life, I’m left irritated by the ennui. But since one of my favourite authors – Joanna Cannon – praised this, I wanted to take a peek.

This is a really sweet story and I’m glad to have read it, even though it does fall into the emotional story manipulating traps that plague this type of set up. For example, I don’t buy at all why seventeen-year-old Lenni has been abandoned by her father to die in a hospital, it makes absolute illogical sense and was only included to, well, make us all sad as hell. Lenni, for being the main narrator of this story, plays a very small portion, but I thoroughly enjoyed her interactions with the hospital priest and the questions, perspectives and bond they formed is the highlight of the book.

Margot is much more developed and her stories were entertaining, but again, I found the use of “when one door closes, one door opens” to be tiresome. By the third time Margot’s life is dealt a massive blow, only to immediately fall into a new (better?) life … it felt too easy and oversimplified. The handling of her sexuality was also a bit muddled in my opinion. 

Overall I’m glad to have read The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, it is a sweet, touching, undemanding read that goes down easily. Bringing forth perspectives on a life well lived and the wonder of our one precious life, it will touch your heart and make you weep … if that is what you’re looking for. 

Read This If:

  • Looking for an emotional read or fancy a good cry.  
  • Enjoy stories centred around unlikely friendships.
  • Like the “stories within a story” set up. 

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