Sunday 28 February 2021

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin BLOG TOUR @itsmcronin @RandomTTours @DoubledayUK @alisonbarrow #LenniAndMargot


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.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin was published on 18 February 2021 by Doubleday / Transworld. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

The sign of a very good book, in this house, is one with multiple folded corners and bit of paper slotted between the pages, marking certain passages that have really resonated. My copy of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is just like that. It's a book that I could open on most pages and find a wonderful, resonating and beautifully written sentence to read out, and to remember.

This book is really quite beautiful, it's imaginative and quirky, it's funny, it's heartbreaking and it's all just so real. Marianne Cronin is just thirty-years-old, and started to write this novel in 2014. It is incredible to believe that anyone of such a tender age could have quite that much wisdom,  and such talent. What a treat we have in store for us if her next books are anything like this one. 

Set in a hospital, the two main protagonists; Lenni and Margot are both near the end of life. Lenni is just seventeen and is angry, she knows she has so much more living that she could do. Margot is eighty-three and has had a life that has been filled to the brim with loves and losses. Between them, they've been on this earth for one hundred years and when they meet, at a hospital art club they decide they will create one hundred pictures. One picture for one memory. 

It's an unusual and compelling premise and a fabulous way to tell the story of the lives of two very different, but very strong and wilful women. The reader learns so much about Lenni, who despite her young age, has experienced some sadnesses in her personal life that many of us will never encounter. She's a quirky, outspoken, funny character and her interactions with the people she meets within the hospital setting are joyous. The special friendship that is built between Lenni and Margot is so tender and really quite special. However Margot is not the only friend that Lenni finds. She chances upon the hospital priest, Father Arthur, one day when she visits the chapel (out of curiosity, not any spiritual calling). Arthur is coming to the end of his career, contemplating life out of the hospital, until Lenni arrives and poses some probing and almost impossible to answer questions. 

Margot's story is told in a series of flash backs, based on the individual pictures that she paints for their project, and as the reader learns more about her and her somewhat unusual history, we begin to understand her. 

Throughout this story there is an incredible overwhelming feeling of love and discovery. It is incredibly moving but never ever sentimental. It confirms to the reader how much joy can be gained through finding true friendship and how the kindness of others can make any situation feel easier.

An utter and total delight. Wonderful characters who worm their way into your life and leave little traces on your heart. I've found myself thinking of Lenni and Margot many times over the past few weeks. 

Highly recommended. Fans of Mike Gayle, Anna McPartlin and Joanna Cannon will love this book. 

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 and stand up 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 Sony/Columbia Pictures. It has been sold in 25 territories to date.

Twitter @itsmcronin

Marianne Cronin says:

I started writing a few days after a girl I'd known at university had passed away of a terminal illness and I remember going to the big Tesco that day and having this feeling that all the people around me didn't know she had lived or died and it got me thinking about the mark we leave on the world. I had known the girl through our university course and whenever we'd worked together, she was lovely but quite shy. When she died, a lot of her closer friends and carers wrote on Facebook about her sense of humour and her cheeky personality - a side that I hadn't seen to her myself and I wondered if maybe I hadn't been looking hard enough and that played a big part in Lenni's creation - that the outside world might see her as one thing, but in reality she is a firecracker of a personality.

Then with my own experienced in hospital (which were investigations for my heart) I found myself thinking a lot about my own mortality and when I was having an ultrasound on my heart it really hit me how fragile the whole system keeping me alive is.  While waiting for appointments, I found myself paying a lot of attention to all the little details in the hospital, but also saw a lot of the funny side too, such as when I was strapped to an ECG machine and asked to run on a treadmill without a top on - not my finest hour!

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