Being a parent there’s nothing worse that I can imagine than my child being sick, and for them to be terminally ill is just a scenario that I would rather not even imagine. So I knew from the outset that The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin was going to be a heartbreaking story to read. I was prepared to let the story enfold me and bring tears to my eyes, but I was never ready for the way this book would make me laugh just as much as it would make me cry.
Lenni is a seventeen year old girl, she’s living in the terminal ward but is determined to still live what life she has left to the full. Full of questions about God and faith and death she visits the hospital’s chapel where she strikes up a friendship with Father Arthur. Her candid conversations will have you giggling despite the serious nature of the discussions, and ultimately lead her to a friendship she didn’t expect to discover.
Seeking even more adventure Lenni joins an art class at the hospital, and it’s here where she meets another unlikely friend, eighty three year old Margot. The two hit it off instantly, and upon realizing that together they have lived one hundred years the pair decide to paint their stories so that they will be remembered even after they are gone.
As they paint they share stories from their past, and we get to know Lenni and Margot through their different ages. This gives us a deeper insight into their lives, and both their loves and their losses are gradually revealed. They may be stuck in a hospital but the two friends can still escape the dreary wards on adventures together by telling these stories of their life.
Even though we can feel the character’s fear at her imminent death it’s made lighter through the humour of Lenni. It will make you laugh despite the gravity of the questions she raises over life and death and everything in between.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a heartwarming story of friendship. It speaks of love and loss, and while you will never be ready for the ending you’ll be so happy to have met and shared the many happy and sad memories of Lenni and Margot.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is available for a recommended retail price of R285.
Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing this inspirational book with me.