The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: A Novel (Paperback)
"When people say 'terminal', I think of the airport. . . . They've started to say 'life-limiting' instead now" (3). Thus, Marianne Cronin initiates her heart-wrenching, wise-cracking, delightful debut novel in which terminally ill, 17-year-old Lenni forges an unbreakable bond with 83-year-old, avant-garde rebel Margot. Even though each is quite ill, both display a joie de vivre, living life to its fullest, acting mischievously, searching for life's meaning in the May Ward at Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. With the help of several caring nurses and the hospital chaplain, the protagonists decide to paint their way through their combined ages: 100 years. This legacy will also include Margot's most life-defining stories, beginning with WWII, written by Lenni who writes more deftly than she paints. Cronin's book inspires the reader through Lenni's and Margot's courageous life-affirming behaviors and escapades. Yes, Lenni's diagnosis is sad, but she propels the reader into a realistic world of joy and sorrow, constantly questioning everyone to discover as much as she can about life. Margot's tales delineate her many difficulties but also her accomplishments throughout her lengthy existence and her myriad loves, particularly her love for her son and for her friend and lover Meena. The history of the decades proves fascinating as do the Scottish cultural and social mores of the period. This beautifully-written novel is an excellent antidote for present-day travails. Lenni and Margot prevail amidst dire medical circumstances and radiate a beacon of light and hope for all readers. This unusual friendship demonstrates the power of healing across age, nationality, socioeconomics, and health. A rich, inspiring piece of writing!— Beth O'brochta
“A beautiful debut, funny, tender, and animated by a willingness to confront life’s obstacles and find a way to survive. . . . It celebrates friendship, finds meaning in difficulty and lets the reader explore dark places while always allowing for the possibility of light. Lenni and Margot are fine companions for all our springtime journeys.”—Harper’s Bazaar, UK
A charming, fiercely alive and disarmingly funny debut novel in the vein of John Green, Rachel Joyce, and Jojo Moyes—a brave testament to the power of living each day to the fullest, a tribute to the stories that we live, and a reminder of our unlimited capacity for friendship and love.
An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives on the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though the teenager has been told she’s dying, she still has plenty of living to do. Joining the hospital’s arts and crafts class, she meets the magnificent Margot, an 83-year-old, purple-pajama-wearing, fruitcake-eating rebel, who transforms Lenni in ways she never imagined.
As their friendship blooms, a world of stories opens for these unlikely companions who, between them, have been alive for one hundred years. Though their days are dwindling, both are determined to leave their mark on the world. With the help of Lenni’s doting palliative care nurse and Father Arthur, the hospital’s patient chaplain, Lenni and Margot devise a plan to create one hundred paintings showcasing the stories of the century they have lived—stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.
Though the end is near, life isn’t quite done with these unforgettable women just yet.
Delightfully funny and bittersweet, heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot reminds us of the preciousness of life as it considers the legacy we choose to leave, how we influence the lives of others even after we’re gone, and the wonder of a friendship that transcends time.
About the Author
Marianne Cronin was born in 1990 and grew up in Warwickshire, England. She studied English at Lancaster University before earning a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she's not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv in the West Midlands, where she now lives. Her debut novel, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, is to be translated into over 20 languages and is being adapted into a feature film by a major Hollywood studio.
“With a sensibility that's as compassionate and quirky as those of her two indelible heroines, Marianne Cronin offers a deceptively lighthearted response to life’s heaviest questions. As Lenni and Margot leave their mark on one another, so too does this tearjerker of a book leave its mark on the reader.” — Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey
“Graceful, intelligent, beautiful writing. Full of wisdom and kindness. It is just the kind of book I adore.” — Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
“Sharp and funny, warm and wise, a remarkable friendship sparks two lifetimes of shared stories in one unforgettable book. I loved it.” — Jess Kidd, author of Himself
“Gorgeously poignant novel . . . unexpectedly funny, touching and so uplifting.” — Good Housekeeping
"A gorgeous, heartbreaking story readers won't soon forget." — Elle (Most Anticipated Books of 2021)
"With it's uplifting message, the story is both poignant and also comical." — Cosmopolitan (20 Book's You're Going to Want to Read this Summer)
“A beautiful debut, funny, tender, and animated by a willingness to confront life’s obstacles and find a way to survive. . . . It celebrates friendship, finds meaning in difficulty and lets the reader explore dark places while always allowing for the possibility of light. Lenni and Margot are fine companions for all our springtime journeys.” — Harper’s Bazaar, UK (Author of the Month)
"Cronin has just struck the right balance between sensitivity and sentimentality, making her one of those admirable writers who does exceptionally fine work both celebrating life and addressing death." — Booklist
“You need a hanky to hand for this exquisite story of friendship . . . Their story is the most beautifully written love letter to friendship, managing to make you laugh and cry uncontrollably. It’s quite simply brilliant!” — Woman & Home, UK
“This multi-generational novel about friendship is something special: moving, joyful, and life-affirming.” — Good Housekeeping, UK (Book of the Month)
“Glorious debut about friendship . . . Touching, honest, and funny.” — Prima (Book of the Month)
"A heart-warming story about how friendship can grow between people of different generations." — BBC
"A beautiful, tender ode to friendship, love and our chosen legacies." — Washington Post (Best Feel-Good Books of 2021)
“Cronin’s characters are fully drawn, and chime together to tell a sweet story about connection, loss, and living.” — Irish Times
"Cronin’s touching debut is a joyous celebration of friendship, love, and life." — Publishers Weekly
"Marianne Cronin’s first novel brims with so much life. . . . With love and tenderness on every page, this imaginative novel is a joy to read." — BookPage (starred review)
"After meeting in the terminal ward’s art class, two women (one 17 and one 83) bond through life, love and friendship in this Uplifting and heartstring-tugging story." — Parade (Ultimate Summer Reading List)