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The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

by Heather O'Neill

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3422149,994 (3.73)48
"With echoes of The Night Circus, a spellbinding story about two gifted orphans -in love with each other since they can remember-whose childhood talents allow them to rewrite their future. The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one's origins. It might also take true love. Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1914. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen. Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city's underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes -after years of searching and desperate poverty -the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same. With her musical language and extravagantly realized world, Heather O'Neill enchants us with a novel so magical there is no escaping its spell"--… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
It would be more honest to give it a two star rating but I could never score the author of Lullabies for Little Criminals so low.

I wanted to love this book, I could see what O'Neill was trying to do but it just didn't work for me.

( )
  MiffsBird | Jul 9, 2019 |
Two children abandoned at birth were raised together in a Montreal orphanage run by nuns who inflicted appalling abuse and saw the children as evidence of sin. The boy, named Pierrot for his pale skin, and the girl Rose for her red cheeks vow to stay together. The names suggest that the story is based on commedia dell'arte a traditional theatrical style, with artistes who performed for rich patrons, like the two children did. O'Neill conveys the style in many ways: masks or hidden identities, the comic opera, the tirades and abuses reminiscent of Punch and Judy. Although this is an even darker concept than any of The Brothers Grimm characters it is in fact a fairy tale love story. Unsettling, unpleasant, yet clever in a dark bleak way. I appreciated O'Neill's talent but can't say I enjoyed this one. ( )
  VivienneR | Jun 23, 2019 |
this review is for the audiobook edition, narrated by julia whelan.


i'd previously read a paper edition of this novel, and loved it. i was curious how the essence of the characters and the character-like-settings would be captured in audiobook format -- whelan did a great job. i did have some minor quibbles when the characters were voiced as children, but this is an issue i have, generally, when adults speak in child-like voices. i find it awkward and uncomfortable to hear. whelan certainly wasn't terrible in these moments but i did tune out slightly. again, minor quibble. (i did wonder why o'neill didn't serve as her own narrator. i've had the pleasure of seeing her in person and when she does readings from her work she brings her words to life vividly, eloquently, and with the perfect amount of quirk.) the whole of the story retained its gorgeous miseries. heather o'neill is an incredible, big-hearted writer and whelan's narration is a very good complement to the story of rose and pierrot's beautifully tragic lives. ( )
  Booktrovert | Feb 13, 2019 |
2.5 stars

Rose and Pierrot grew up at the same orphanage in Montreal, where they performed for rich people to raise money, once Pierrot’s piano-playing talent and Rose’s dancing talent was discovered. While at the orphanage, despite abuse at the hands of the nuns, they fall in love. As they grow older, however, they are separated and spend their lives trying to dig their way out of poverty and pining for each other.

Not a fan. I listened to the audio and the narrator was good, but it wasn’t enough. I thought, at the start, I was going to like it, but it didn’t turn out that way. I didn’t like any of the characters, and I didn’t care about what happened to them (except when they were young and still at the orphanage). Disappointing, especially since I really liked “Lullabies for Little Criminals” by this author. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 26, 2019 |
I'm a fan of Heather O'Neill's but I might be hard pressed to say what it is I like about her writing. Then, while googling for information about her, I found a National Post review written by Michael Melgaard of a different book in which he expressed what I lacked the ability to say. "This collection, like all of her work, is filled with humour, moments of joy, sudden bursts of deep emotion and heartbreaking sincerity."

Rose and Pierrot were raised in a Montreal orphanage run by nuns. Pierrot is a musical genius and Rose is theatrical. They are paired up as a performing duo for the rich people of Montreal and soon are deeply in love. Of course, love does not run smoothly. Pierrot is singled out by Sister Eloise for sexual abuse and she becomes jealous of Pierrot's interest in Rose. Rose is sent off as a governess/nanny to the children of a wealthy Montreal gangster and Pierrot becomes the ward of wealthy Westmount man who heard Pierrot play when he came to the orphanage to drop off money. Thus the two are separated for many years with each becoming entangled with other lovers. When Pierrot's benefactor dies he is thrown out of the house and becomes addicted to heroin. Rose became the mistress of the Montreal gangster until she decides she has to get away from him. Although both are living in Montreal they don't meet until both decide to look for the other and eventually find one another. They form the performing group they dreamed of as children and go to New York to play, to great acclaim, on Broadway. However the only way they could afford to do this was to agree to transport drugs for Rose's former lover who is exceedingly jealous of Pierrot. He decides that if he can't have Rose no one else is going to either. He contracts with the New York gangsters receiving the drugs to kill Rose as part of the payment. Rose is a smart cookie and figures out a way to turn the situation to her advantage but in doing so she ignores Pierrot who returns to the drug addiction that he had kicked for Rose. I confess to feeling cross with Rose and also with Pierrot but the ending redeems all.

The Globe and Mail review of this book ended by saying that O'Neill just gets better and better and I would agree. ( )
  gypsysmom | Dec 20, 2018 |
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