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A Hundred Small Lessons

On sale

28th November 2017

Price: £8.99

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Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9781473676558

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‘I love Ashley Hay’s writing . . . it’s so poised and beautiful.’ Guardian
‘A moving and lyrical story of marriage, motherhood and age. Highly recommend.’ Cari Rosen, author of The Secret Diary of a New Mum (Aged 43 1/4)

When Elsie Gormley leaves the Brisbane house in which she has lived for more than sixty years, Lucy Kiss and her family move in, eager to establish their new life. As they settle in, Lucy and her husband Ben struggle to navigate their transformation from adventurous lovers to new parents, taking comfort in memories of their vibrant past as they begin to unearth who their future selves might be. But the house has secrets of its own, and the rooms seem to share recollections of Elsie’s life with Lucy.

In her nearby nursing home, Elsie traces the span of her life-the moments she can’t bear to let go and the places to which she dreams of returning. Her beloved former house is at the heart of her memories of marriage, motherhood, love, and death, and the boundary between present and past becomes increasingly porous for both her and Lucy.

Over the course of one hot Brisbane summer, two families’ stories intersect in sudden and unexpected ways. Through the richly intertwined narratives of two ordinary, extraordinary women, Ashley Hay uses her lyrical prose, poetic dialogue, and stunning imagery to weave an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.


Ashley Hay explores the ways in which we inhabit spaces: building homes and filling them with our possessions, dreams, regrets, fears and secrets. I was deeply touched by this graceful novel, with its unflinching approach to reality and its gentle undercurrents of sadness, nostalgia and hope. It is a highly recommended read for fans of literary fiction and Hay's own award-­winning The Railwayman's Wife.
Katharine England, Adelaide Advertiser
With a lovely attention to the detail of things and feelings, Hay enlists our concern for her characters and an appreciation for the revealing echoes they call up in our own lives
I love Ashley Hay's writing ... it's so poised and beautiful. And I know Ashley, and she writes as she is. I always like that in a person: when the writing that they do is very much the person that you get, it has an integrity about it that I enjoy ... She can't write a bad sentence
Publishers Weekly
Hay's engaging third novel explores the lives of two women connected by a house. In Brisbane, Australia, Lucy Kiss; her husband, Ben; and their young son, Tom, have just moved into the home where Elsie Gormley lived for more than 60 years. Hay's perceptive prose illuminates both Elsie's and Lucy's lives, resulting in a rich dual character study that spans generations.
Library Journal
Readers who loved the quiet introspection of Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife and Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge will enjoy the detailed emotional journeys of Hay's characters. Their stories will linger.
Cari Rosen, author of The Secret Diary of a New Mum (Aged 43 1/4)
A moving and lyrical story of marriage, motherhood and age. Highly recommend.
Tessa Lunney, Australian Book Review
A Hundred Small Lessons holds powerful truths, simply told ... There is no definitive moment; instead, ideas are layered, one small action at a time, until the whole is revealed. Only then can we see the intricacy of the story, in which the river's flowing quality is present within each sentence, the moods and tides reflective of the transformative power of parenthood
Katherine Gillespie, The Australian
Hay renders the small details of an undramatic, decent life with tenderness that is touching and compelling... a measured piece of writing that works carefully to create pensive and evocative images of time and place and people.