A Hundred Small Lessons
A Hundred Small Lessons is a reflective, mystical meditation on interconnectedness and shared experiences. With parallel narratives and quietly evocative prose, Ashley Hay (The Railwayman's Wife) unfolds the similarities between two women of different generations, alongside their shifts in identities and expectations, as they grow as mothers amid familiar questions, decisions and insecurities.
At age 89, Elsie Gormley prides herself on living independently in her Brisbane, Australia, home. After Elsie suffers a fall and reluctantly moves into an assisted living community, her beloved home is sold to Lucy Kiss and Ben Carter, a young married couple with a toddler. With the house serving as the connection between their families, Lucy begins to feel a bond with Elsie, whose emotional presence becomes stronger even as she declines physically and mentally. Upon discovering a hidden box of old, mysterious photographs, Lucy's curiosity intensifies, as does her sense that Elsie represents her vardøger, a spiritual predecessor "who traveled ahead of you in time."
A Hundred Small Lessons is a novel of small mysteries and coincidences that will prompt readers to reflect on how one life can be commingled with the past as well as be a first draft of the future. "Maybe these days most of us are vardøger, living versions of a finite set of lives.... Did you have just one vardøger, scurrying ahead, or did new iterations of yourself peel off whenever you made a decision?" Just as our stories and nuances have a way of becoming invisibly etched into the walls, floorboards and foundation of a beloved home, the same is true of our shared experiences alongside others traveling a familiar path. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at melissafirman.com