"A Hundred Small Lessons"

In a home in Brisbane, Australia, an elderly widow is puttering in her kitchen and enjoying her “cuppa” tea when she suffers a stroke. The next day she is recovering in a nursing facility, forced to leave the home where she has lived for 70 years. So begins “A Hundred Small Lessons,” by Ashley Hay.

A young family moves into the home the elderly woman owned after it’s sold by her children, and another woman, a younger one, begins to follow the familiar path of domesticity and motherhood. Told in flashbacks between the past and present, the lives of the two women intertwine, and their similarities and differences make up the narration of this story.

Mothers and wives who stay home with children will see themselves in this book. How Elsie, the first occupant, and Lucy, the second, handle similar situations will keep readers interested and reflecting on their own lives. Elise, born to be a wife, mother, and homemaker struggles with her observation that her own daughter yearns for more and has become a bitter wife and mother because she doesn’t have what she calls “more.”

Lucy, once a career woman now staying home with her child, also yearns for more and makes a rash decision that changes her viewpoint about her life. She feels the presence of Elsie in the house and, in fact, Elsie is able to visit the house at night for a time.

The universal theme of finding your place in the world, and how to adapt to a new place, when others’ lives are affected, is prevalent in this story. It’s especially interesting because the two women navigating their lives in “A Hundred Small Lessons” live in the same house in different eras. The telling makes one appreciate a more simple life and causes one to reflect on the joy and beauty of home and family.