**This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Random Things Tours and Doubleday UK for the opportunity.**
Seventeen-year-old Lenni Petterson is painfully aware of how short life is. She lives on the terminal ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. This doesn’t stop Lenni from wanting to live, and she realises the best way to do that is when you share your experiences with other people.
Eighty-three-year-old Margot is rebellious and sees that same trait in Lenni when she demands to go to an art class in the hospital’s new art facility, the Rose Room. Between the pair, they form a precious bond through painting their shared century on earth together. Their life stories take you through the streets of Glasgow, London, and Sweden and bring to life times long since passed.
Have you ever come across a book with so much heart and soul that it just envelopes you in warmth? That’s how I felt reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot.
Lenni is seventeen years old, and her terminal diagnosis is enough to break anyone’s heart. She is vivacious, mischievous, and had a zest for life that was utterly inspiring. This is a girl who refused to give up on herself or to give up on living. I found myself loving her inquisitiveness, she brought such a beautiful light to the story even though she knew her life would only be short. She is wise beyond her years, and that was proven by her conversations with Father Arthur, the hospital’s chaplaincy priest. He helped her as much as she helped him. She touched the lives of any character she met in this book.
Margot truly has a heart of gold. She saw the girl with blond hair, and pink pajamas and took her under her wing until she felt like her own granddaughter. Whilst both character’s backstories were riddled with tragedy, they had this urgency to live that had you rooting for them every step of the way. To journey through Margot’s past was a pleasure, this was a woman who simply had found herself in the wrong era. She knew who and what she wanted, but knew at that time, she couldn’t have it. I’m being elusive as it would ruin the heart of her story to give that away.
To watch their friendship and love grow was so beautiful. You knew the two of them wouldn’t give up on each other no matter what. They were bonded forever by their time spent in the Rose Room, the art room for the patients. Being able to be a part of them drawing their life stories was an experience like no other. It will have you laughing, it will have you crying, and above all, you’ll be floored by how beautifully this book is written.
Cronin has filled the pages with such depth, warmth, and soul that it’s impossible to fault it. I didn’t realise I was crying until I couldn’t see the pages anymore. I felt so many emotions all at once that I felt like I’d been hit by a ten-tonne truck. It truly is an exceptional story.
For the reasons above, I can only give this 5/5 stars. I was simply blown away by how fantastic The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is. If her debut novel is this good, I can’t wait to read whatever else she writes.