Books & Literature

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

GENERAL FICTION: An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Their last one begins here.

A heart-warming story that will make you laugh out loud one minute and cry into your pillow the next. A roller coaster of emotions that ends all too soon.

If you enjoy a story that makes you laugh and cry and wraps itself around you like a warm, gentle hug then The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is the book for you. It is hard to believe that this is the first novel written by Marianne Cronin. Cronin is an English author with a MA and PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is the story of 17-year-old Lenni and her friend Margot. Both are patients at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Lenni is living in the terminal May Ward. One day she meets 83-year-old Margot from the next ward. They realise that together they have lived 100 years.

The hospital has built a new art room for the patients but Lenni has more in common with the over-80s group than those her own age so she switches groups. And so begins a mission for Margot and Lenni to paint their stories, one for every year of their lives. The stories they paint are about growing old, being young, finding love and losing love. They are stories of joy and heartbreak. Each painting has a story and the reader becomes privy to many of these 100 stories. We are taken along on a ride of emotions as we live their experiences with them. 

In The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot we also meet Father Arthur, the “close to retiring” chaplain of the hospital chapel. He is not sure how to take the cheerful, irreverent, wise, honest, vibrant Lenni at first but Lenni is determined to win him over. She is searching for answers to the fundamental questions of life and Father Arthur is often at a loss as to what to say to this engaging but frustrating 17-year-old. We also meet Pippa who runs the art workshops by default, the new nurse with her cherry-pink hair who likes to sit on the end of Lenni’s bed with her feet up to have a chat, and Paul the Porter with his tattoos and cheerful nature. 

Lenni is a joy. She says what she thinks and she is always thinking! The friendship between Lenni and Margot is heart-warming. Even though Lenni’s lifespan is short, she makes the most of every second and does not suffer fools. She is an expert at dodging the hospital system which includes the grumpy nurse Jacky. 

The friendship between Margot and Lenni shows us that age is no barrier to friendship and readers will want to savour every word of this beautiful story.

Cronin tells us that she did not set out to write a funny book but it is certainly full of many laugh-out-loud moments. She has created wellrounded endearing characters who make the reader want to treasure every moment of their lives and the friendships they have. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is full of heart, joy, love, loss and friendship and is a book you will want to share with all your friends.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Penguin Random House Australia
Released: 16 February 2021
RRP: $32.99

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