A Hundred Small Lessons (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Ashley Hay

Atria Books, 9781501165139, 304pp.

Publication Date: November 28, 2017

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

December 2017 Indie Next List

“This a beautifully written, important, quiet gem of a novel that takes hold of you and wends its way into your psyche. It tells the story of two families who live in the same house at different times in Brisbane, plumbing the relationships between mothers and children, husbands and wives. Marriage and motherhood are explored in-depth within the context of the story's rich character development. A Hundred Small Lessons is a welcome addition to the genre of thoughtful novels with much wisdom to offer the reader. I highly recommend this novel, whose life lessons will continue to live with me for years to come.”
— Sarajane Giddings, Blue Door Books, Cedarhurst, NY
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Description

Through the richly intertwined narratives of two women from different generations, Ashley Hay, known for her “elegant prose, which draws warm and textured portraits as it celebrates the web of human stories” (New York Times Book Review) weaves an intricate, bighearted tale of the many small decisions—the invisible moments—that come to make a life.

“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 long after the final page is turned” (Library Journal).

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” (RT magazine) to weave an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.

“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 long after the final page is turned.” (Library Journal)


About the Author

Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of the novels A Hundred Small Lessons, The Body in the Clouds, and The Railwayman’s Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. She has also written four nonfiction books. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.


Praise For A Hundred Small Lessons: A Novel

Praise for A Hundred Small Lessons:

“A reflective, mystical meditation on interconnectedness and shared experiences…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.”

“Numerous scenes in this thoughtful novel will linger in the reader’s memory…A lyrically written portrayal of the lives of two women tied together by memories and the house they share, A Hundred Small Lessons is sure to be enjoyed by readers of Kate Morton.”

“Hay’s prose is stunningly, shatteringly beautiful, and the emotional punch she delivers as the women’s paths ultimately converge makes this seemingly quiet novel a breathless and powerful read.”

“Hay truly encapsulates how our lives are interwoven. We are sent on a journey through the decades as small events and echoes of memories overlap, intersect and suddenly converge into a beautiful portrait spanning the past, present and future. Every word has a purpose and resonates…Readers will fall in love with the vivid landscapes of Brisbane and the impeccable, lyrical language that seeps from the pages.” 

"If you haven’t read anything by Ashley Hay, you are in for a treat: her language is lyrical, the lives she creates are authentic, her words are a delight to read. This is another delightful book from a very talented writer."

“This contemplative novel explores the emotions of saying goodbye to a life of familiarity and embracing the unknown…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 long after the final page is turned.”

“If home is where the heart is, when does a house become a home—or, conversely, stop being one? Two women struggle to find the answer…Elsie’s aging memories give the book a timeless sense of marriage and motherhood and perhaps a flicker of what Lucy may find in her future. The home that Elsie must give up with regret, Lucy must learn to love. This is typical of Hay who slowly weaves a tale of past and present lives, exploring the sense that the gap between the two women is not impervious to sensitive souls. Both Elsie and Lucy are finely and sympathetically drawn, and their lives highlight issues that affect many women. A cerebral tale, slow-moving but profound.” 
— Kirkus

“Her intricately layered story, bolstered by perspectives of an old mother and a young one, tackles the thorny questions of what it means to become a parent and how it feels to be no longer needed as one. Lyrical and tenderhearted, this will delight fans of Liane Moriarty and Kate Hewitt.”

“Engaging…Hay’s perceptive prose illuminates both Elsie’s and Lucy’s lives, resulting in a rich dual character study that spans generations.”

“A book that overflows with gratitude for the hard, beautiful things of this world, and for the saving worlds of our imagination.”
— Helen Garner, award-winning author of Everywhere I Look

"An emotional and satisfying read about navigating life's many phases and how place can transform who we are."

“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.”

A Hundred Small Lessons explores notions of home, family, identity, creativity, aging and our relationship with cities and the natural world.…Hay explores the ways in which we inhabit spaces: building homes and filling them with our possessions, dreams, regrets, fears and secrets. This graceful novel, with its unflinching approach to reality and its gentle undercurrents of sadness, nostalgia and hope, is a highly recommended read for fans of literary fiction.”

“Hay’s intelligent scrutiny of the human psyche gives depth to this neatly constructed story.” 

Deeply affecting…Hay’s unique novel glides like a swan and only after the last page do you realize how deeply you’ve dived.”

“Hay creates a compelling story, charting what it is to be human.”

“Hay explores with considerable empathy and insight the everyday lives of two very different generations…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.”

"A luminous evocation of ordinary lives and the city that shapes them. Ashley Hay brings a pointillist eye to the daily miracles of love, of chance, of belonging."
— Kristina Olsson

Praise for The Railwayman's Wife:

“Exquisitely written and deeply felt, The Railwayman's Wife is limpid and deep as the rock pools on the coastline beloved by this book’s characters and just as teeming with vibrant life. Ashley Hay’s novel of love and pain is a true book of wonders.”
— Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord

The Railwayman’s Wife is a fine evocation of place and time - a vivid love letter to a particular corner of post-war Australia. Ashley Hay writes with subtle insight about grief and loss and the heart's voyage through and beyond them. It's a lovely, absorbing, and uplifting read.”
— M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans

“The Railwayman's Wife is a beautifully attentive study of what comes after - after a funeral, after a war - and Ashley Hay is a wise and gracious guide through this fascinating territory. This is a book in which grief and love are so entwined they make a new and wonderful kind of sense.”
— Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest

“Ashley Hay weaves a moving tale of love, loss and hope.”

“Hay’s poetic gifts are evident in her descriptions of the wild coastal landscape and Roy’s measured verse. This poignant, elegant novel delves into the depth of tragedy, the shaky ground of recovery, and the bittersweet memories of lost love.”

“Multilayered, graceful, couched in poetry, supremely honest, gentle yet jarring, Hay's thought-provoking novel pulls you along slowly, like a deep river that is deceptively calm but full of hidden rapids. Much to ponder.”

“Significant moments are described with astoundingly solid writing, and the coastal setting is beautifully depicted. Previously released to critical acclaim in Australia in 2013 and a 2014 winner of the Colin Roderick Prize in the UK, this second novel from Hay is the kind of slow, ruminative, evocative story that will appeal to devotees of literary fiction.”

“After wow-ing European audiences, this book is coming stateside to dazzle you…Beautifully written, and featuring some excellent passages about writing and reading itself, this book will have you feeling every emotion at once.”

“Hay has lovingly crafted a poignant, character-driven novel filled with heartache and hope, which is transferred to the reader through lyrical prose, poetic dialogue and stunning imagery.”

“A literary and literate gem of a book that leaves you with a set of emotions that I suspect last for a long, long time.”

"This story is a study in emotion: grief, hope, love, redemption, and yearning. The prose is so elegant that it seems to glide.”

"Hay delicately threads together the lives of a widowed librarian, an unproductive poet, and a guilt-ridden doctor as they grapple with life after loss in post-World War II Thirroul, a small seaside village in New South Wales, Australia."