Wednesday, 3 February 2021

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin - Book Review

 Sometimes a book comes a long that really touches you, heart and soul feeling each and every emotion possible.

This was very much the case with Marianne Cronin's debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot. 

I was actually gifted this stunner of a book a few months ago but it took me until a couple of weeks back to actually delve into the pages and experience (what I knew from reviews) the true power of this beautiful tale.



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.

Upon finishing, I was almost at a loss for words. How could I do this book justice? Could portray just how I felt after those final chapters?  Did I have the ability to describe something that was so brilliantly honest?

The truth, probably not. But I couldn't not share my thoughts.

"An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here."

This story is pure beauty. Within the pages we are introduced to 17 year old Lenni, a teen girl who is wise beyond her years and then there's Margot, who at 83 years old has many stories to tell.

Meeting within the confines of a hospital, it becomes apparent very early on that the outcomes for one or both of these characters might not be as 'happily ever after' as we as the reader may hope for. However what also shines through is just how brave they are, both with a real zest for life.

These two form an unlikely yet extraordinary friendship and what grows from that is a tale like no other. Poignant yet gently funny, I came to adore this pairs companionship.

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.

Lenni is the teenager I wish I'd been growing up.

Confident, caring and courageous. She is spunky and knows just what she wants and just how she's going to get it. I absolutely adored her conversations with Father Arthur.

This is a girl, who has been through a lot, managing to smile and carry on regardless.

"They've been gone for who knows how long, but we can still see them. They live on."

Then there's Margot. Dear, dear Margot.

Ok, I'm going to say it, I'd quite like this larger than life woman to be my grandma. Her enriching stories, her painting talents and her overwhelming ability to love deeply.  

She is quite simply fabulous.

"Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

Remarkable!

Lenni and Margot go to show that there is no barrier when it comes to friendship, especially not a silly thing like age. We can learn a thing or five from anyone we meet whether they are young or old because age is but a number is it not?

With each story they told, I was drawn in further. I guess captivated would be the right word.

"When people say terminal, I think of the airport."

I cannot believe that this is Marianne's debut novel because it is so seamless. The story came alive in my hands.

Filled with wit and wisdom, this is a novel packed with a lifetime of stories. I'd recommend having a box of tissues handy because all the feels are contained within this book.

Brimming with kindness, Lenni and Margot is charming, touching and honest. I found myself unknowingly smiling throughout - even when the tears began to flow.

To read this book truly is the best gift you could give yourself or anyone for that matter.

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