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The Lonely Hearts Hotel

By: Heather O'Neill

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Imprint: Riverhead (HC)

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780735213739

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On Sale: | Pages: 400

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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.
The jaunty narrative tone conveys an atmosphere of airy loveliness that lends disturbing events an aura of unreality. A critique of the novel might contend that it keeps us swirling in the clouds of pretty language, rather than planting us down firmly into the characters' difficult experiences. But in Calvino's view, the scales of literary greatness tip in favor of buoyancy.... The mournful ending of “The Lonely Hearts Hotel” is all the more wrenching for the delicate narrative touch throughout the novel, which has stirred up hope for a happily-ever-after finale for Pierrot and Rose.
—San Francisco Chronicle
To read Heather O'Neill's dazzling new novel, “The Lonely Hearts Hotel,” is to enter an enchanting and poetic world that is also amusing, troubling and often lascivious. O'Neill's lively style is so filled with vivid descriptions and complex characters that the reader's experience is virtually cinematic.... Dangers emerge, but in the hands of this brilliant author, even the ugliest events are depicted with the most musical cadences, soaring arias and symphonic resolutions. Filled with inspired twists and turns, the tale is utterly compelling, creating a world where desperation and love coexist.
—Washington Post
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