“The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot,” a realistic fiction novel written by Marianne Cronin, is a poignant commentary on the human experience seen through the eyes of 17-year-old Lenni. Lenni experiences her life in a hospital, which colors the hope, loss and newfound friendships that come with adolescence. This novel takes a dive into the psyche of a young girl diagnosed with a “life-limiting” disease. Lenni is characterized through her bubbly personality that contradicts her ailments, making readers view her life and the hospital in a vivid and imaginative light. The central character’s personality and quippy humor makes it seem as if Cronin knew Lenni herself. Cronin does a wonderful job of connecting Lenni’s storyline to Margot, a spunky elderly woman who is in the hospital with a terminal condition as well.
This novel does a phenomenal job of molding out the complexities of Lenni and Margot. I got to see the flaws of every character — how they crumble under certain circumstances yet remain true to their identities. Not only does Cronin tell the two women’s stories, but she is able to make each secondary characters’ personalities come alive. Each story is gritty and packed with emotion, a complete biography of both of their lives and the people who affected them. The novel’s prose is eloquently crafted. Some lines utilized beautiful language, while others were jagged and hurtful. I was astounded at how easily Cronin could move between the sentences, reflecting not only the perfect parts of life but also those that cause the most pain.
Imagery proves bountiful in this piece. This novel carried me to the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital, right next to Lenni on her hospital bed. The Rose Room, the place where Lenni and Margot first met, is where patients come together for art, and the author creates a setting that is welcoming and warm. By having a space where the two can get lost in the world of each other’s stories, they are able paint each memory they have of the most remarkable moments of their lives onto a canvas. The author once again does an impeccable job of taking readers to Lenni and Margot’s hometowns, the countries they traveled, and the memories and friendships made, making it an incredibly immersive story. I felt like I’ve known these characters for a lifetime, and Cronin was not only able to create strong bonds between the characters, but between the audience and characters as well.
Anyone who seeks genuine friendships and yearns to explore the intricacies of the human experience should carve time out to read this novel. In a simple yet artistic way, it implores the deepest of life’s musings and hopefulness, and urged me to introspect on the way I make and view friendships. In a world where hate and misery are abundant, it is important to keep check of the good in it, too. And this novel accomplishes exactly that.