The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
A Novel

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Like Rawi Hage, Monique Proulx or Nicolas Dickner, Heather O’Neill invents geographies fuelled by an obsession with the broken characters that haunt city streets. The Lonely Hearts Hotel attempts such a vision, but its large canvas and ever twisting plot weaken the emotional intensity that was so remarkable in her earlier novels.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY THE BOSTON GLOBE AND THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"So filled with vivid descriptions and complex characters that the reader's experience is virtually cinematic. . . Utterly compelling." – The Washington Post

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.
 

About Heather O'Neill

See more books from this Author
 
Published February 7, 2017 by Riverhead Books. 398 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Lonely Hearts Hotel
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Molly McCloskey on Mar 30 2017

...if the novel’s excesses trip it up, this same promiscuousness results in a work of unusual generosity.

Read Full Review of The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Sherry Simon on Feb 14 2017

Like Rawi Hage, Monique Proulx or Nicolas Dickner, Heather O’Neill invents geographies fuelled by an obsession with the broken characters that haunt city streets. The Lonely Hearts Hotel attempts such a vision, but its large canvas and ever twisting plot weaken the emotional intensity that was so remarkable in her earlier novels.

Read Full Review of The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Jack Kirchhoff on Apr 14 2017

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and her short-story collection Daydreams of Angels were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in consecutive years. They are impressive works, as is The Lonely Hearts Hotel. Heather O'Neill is just getting better and better.

Read Full Review of The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Reader Rating for The Lonely Hearts Hotel
72%

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