Luminous and deeply affecting, A Hundred Small Lessons is about the many small decisions - the invisible moments - that come to make a life. The intertwined lives of two women from different generations tell a rich and intimate story of how we feel what it is to be human, and how place can transform who we are. It takes account of what it means to be mother or daughter; father or son. It's a story of love, and of life.
When Elsie Gormley falls and is forced to leave her Brisbane home of sixty-two years, Lucy Kiss and her family move in, with their new life - new house, new city, new baby. Lucy and her husband Ben are struggling to transform from adventurous lovers to new parents and seek to smooth the rough edges of their present with memories of their past as they try to discover their future selves.
In her nearby nursing home, Elsie revisits the span of her life - the moments she can't bear to let go; the haunts to which she might yet return. Her memories of marriage, motherhood, love and death are intertwined with her old house, whose rooms seem to breathe Elsie's secrets into Lucy.
Through one hot, wet Brisbane summer, seven lives - and two different slices of time - wind along with the flow of the river, as two families chart the ways in which we come, sudden and oblivious, into each other's stories, and the unexpected ripples that flow out from those chance encounters.
'A luminous evocation of ordinary lives and the city that shapes them. Ashley Hay brings a pointillist eye to the daily miracles of love, of chance, of belonging.' KRIS OLSSON, author of Kibble prize-winner Boy, Lost
About the Author
Ashley Hay's work includes fiction, narrative non-fiction, journalism, essays and reviews. Her novels have been longlisted for awards including the Miles Franklin and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and shortlisted for categories in the WA Premier's Prize, the NSW Premier's Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, as well as the Nita B. Kibble Award.
Her second novel, The Railwayman's Wife, was awarded the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies, and also won the People's Choice at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. It was also published in the UK, the US and in translation.
A former literary editor of The Bulletin she contributes to journals including The Monthly and Griffith Review. Her work has won awards in Australia, the UK and the US, and has been anthologised in collections including Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Science Writing, and Best Australian Short Stories.
She was editor of Best Australian Science Writing 2014 and was awarded the 2015 Dahl Trust/ABR Fellowship, for which essay she won the 2016 Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.
She lives in Brisbane.
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Comments about A Hundred Small Lessons:
Centred around an old weatherboard house in a Brisbane suburb, the stories of the two families who live(d) in it, 50 years apart are intertwined yet separate. The reader often knows more than the protagonists, but not always; there is an element of intrigue and unfinished business. The old woman - now in a care home - is beautifully portrayed as her mind slips from the past to present and back and also to her old home; her "kids" – now 70 struggle to cope with her. The new family is ultra-modern with all the pros and cons that brings including frequently absent husband, small son and exhausted and frustrated wife. Then there are the things that go bump in the night – possums? The old lady? A missing key? This is an unusual and rich account of the everyday and it's compelling reading. A book to savour.
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 29th March 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3