The Lonely Hearts Hotel

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

A Novel

Book - 2017 | First edition.
Average Rating:
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Set in Montreal and New York between the wars, a spellbinding story about two orphans whose unusual magnetism and talent allow them to imagine a sensational future, from the bestselling, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author.

Exquisitely imagined and hypnotically told, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. Set in the early part of the 20th Century, it is an unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose fortune hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to escape 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 true 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 for the rich, 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, both escape into the city's underworld, where they must use their uncommon gifts to survive without each other. Ruthless and unforgiving, Montreal in the 1930's is no place for song and dance. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes, the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make those dream come true. After Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls hit the stage and the alleys, the underworld will never look the same.

With extraordinary storytelling, musical language, and an extravagantly realized world, acclaimed author Heather O'Neill enchants us with her best novel yet -- one so magical there is no escaping its spell.

Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781443435864
Branch Call Number: FIC O'Neil
Characteristics: 389 pages ; 25 cm

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m
Margush
Jul 01, 2017

Drugs, prostitution, abusive relationships and someone's strong will to get out of that nightmare.This is Heather O'Neill's second book based on these topics. I have no idea how she's able to be so descriptive and precise in providing all those amusing details pertaining to those very, very sad matters. But she's quite amazing in doing that. Her writing style is exquisite and full of light erotica. I did skip a part in the middle of the book where two characters were trying to find each other - it was a bit longer than it should be, and I also found the end a bit messy - to organize a circus to transport drugs and then to dissolve it? If you're okay to do some mental work while reading a book, give it a try. Ms. O'Neill's books are quite unusual. You'll remember them.

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X4052010709
Jun 28, 2017

I loved this book and have just finished Lullabies for Little Criminals. I find her writing style almost lyrical and enjoyed both books immensely. I have never read anything like The Lonely Hearts Hotel, and I believe it will be at the top of my list of favourites for a very long time to come. Cannot recommend this book highly enough. 5 stars from me!

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dirtbag
Jun 10, 2017

I quit when I was three quarters of the way through the book. I just never cared what happened to the two protagonists and there didn't seem to be any plot development. If you haven't read a book by this woman, read 'Lullabies for Little Criminals' instead.

l
laphampeak
Mar 31, 2017

Quite imaginative, the characters as well as the story.Two little orphans growing up and apart yet always intertwined. The book is quirky, sad, creative, and naughty. Great read.

k
karen3515
Mar 25, 2017

Set in depression-era Montreal, this deeply dark and disturbing fairly tale is woven with unforgettable characters and richly graphic metaphors. Incredibly well written, but definitely not for the faint of heart.

SPL_Shauna Mar 23, 2017

If you loved the setting of Water for Elephants, and you're looking for another high-drama read, this may be the book for you. O'Neill's prose is more stylized, which some may love and some may not. If you can work with her prose style, the setting is rich, the story is top notch and the ending is unreal. Highly recommended.

Amy_MarkhamPL Mar 05, 2017

No one writes like Heather O'Neill- her descriptions are unexpected, strange, and magical. I loved every last moment of this completely bonkers novel. It's just endlessly inventive and joyful, even when it's sad.

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GailStarr
Feb 26, 2017

Another marvelous, wonderful book from Heather O'Neill! Everything about her writing is delightful. Her similes, for example: a character "exhaled a row of smoke rings that looked like a row of ballerinas in tutus spinning by"; or, describing a boxer dog that "looked as if it were squeezing its face out of a turtleneck sweater"; or a pay phone that "swallowed the coin quickly, like a dog that doesn't chew its treat."

The story begins with the main characters as children. It follows their childhood dreams through to often difficult adulthood, preserving always the childlike wonder and aspiration.

In acknowledgments, the author mentions her daughter as her "trusted associate." Without knowing the age of her daughter, it is clear that she grew up, or is growing up, with a mother who never lacks for a magical and well-told story.

Highly recommended.

o
obtusata
Feb 24, 2017

This story is intriguing, sad, beautiful, and, ultimately, a little bit tragic. But, the writing – oh, the writing! I’m absolutely besotted with O’Neill’s writing style. Her style is almost poetic, and her imagination shines through her imagery.

This is a roller coaster of emotion and a page turner. It’s well worth the read. I strongly encourage readers to try, as best they can, to get through as much of this book as possible before giving up on it.

Also, remember that not all stories involve people with perfect lives. This book is quite honest about life in the early 1900’s – poverty, abuse, drugs, women being treated like property, etc. I’ve seen a lot of reviews where people quit early in the book because of all the despair, but the despair is part of life and part of the beauty of this book.

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