The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin (347pages)
A Lifetime of Memories Between Two Friends forms in The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
Lenni Pettersson and Margot Mccrae are both terminally ill patients at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. The difference is that Lenni is 17-years-old and Margot is 83. Together, the sum of their ages equals 100 years. Both are at the ends of their respective lives, but we never know what it is that they are dying of. What we do know is that their friendship forms in the most unlikely circumstances when Lenni meets Margot one day in the terminal ward’s hallway. Shortly thereafter, an arts program was created for the terminally ill patients at the hospital. Bounded by hope and creativity, Lenni decides to participate, and that is where she runs into Margot again. Together, they decided to embark on an art project , painting a picture for every year of their lives – 100 paintings in all, while recounting the most important moments of their lives.
Meanwhile, Lenni has a lot of unanswered questions about life-like why she’s dying when she’s still so young? She brings these questions amongst others to Father Arthur, the hospital’s chaplain. They form a friendship through conversations in the chapel, where Father Arthur helps Lenni come to terms with these questions.
A Tender Tale of Love, Loss, Friendship, and Discovery
What prompted me to pick up this book was its beautiful blue and yellow cover and its promise of a story about two people, presumably Lenni and Margot. What I got out of it was much more than an appreciation for book covers. I got to learn about patients living in a hospital (even if it was a fictitious one) and the ups and downs that come along with being diagnosed with a terminal illness. I got to dig deeper into the role that religion can play in a person’s final days and how important it is to believe in something – not just anything, but a belief in hope. In the end, I learned that there is so much hope and care and appreciation for life. That’s what resonated the most with me.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
I was so enamoured with this book from the very first line. Upon reading the author’s interview at the end of the book, I learned that it took her seven years to write the novel, and it shows. Her prose and dialogue are beautiful, resonant and timeless. I’m generally a big fan of “historical” type novels, where a character does a retelling of their lives, and this book does it so well while navigating between two major characters. The transition is smooth, and you can feel what they feel even when it’s not the present. If you love stories about unconventional friendships, this is for you.
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