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The Lonely Hearts Hotel: Book summary and reviews of The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

by Heather O'Neill

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill X
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2017
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. O'Neill is a mistress of metaphor and imagery ("her sobs were flung on the deck"). This is brilliant tragicomedy…in a melancholy love story that brings to life the bygone days of theatrical revues. It's a little weird and a lot of fun." –Booklist

"Starred Review. O'Neill's prose is crisp and strange, arresting in its frankness; much like the novel itself, her writing is both gleefully playful and devastatingly sad. Big and lush and extremely satisfying; a rare treat." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. The star-crossed love affair of the poor orphans who team up to create an enchanting circus might sound like a book that has already been written once or twice, but don't be fooled. This is an original and unforgettable novel." - Library Journal

"O'Neill is an extraordinary writer, and her new novel is exquisite. She has taken on sadness itself as a subject, but it would be terribly reductive to say that this book is sad; it's also joyful, funny, and vividly alive." –Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

"Heather O'Neill's style is laced with so much sublime possibility and merciless reality that it makes me think of comets and live wires and William Blake's 'The Tyger.' Between prose like that and a story like this, you have a book that raises goosebumps and the giddiest of grins." – Helen Oyeyemi, author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

"Because this book is so filled with delightful things, it would be easy to overlook how finely it is made. The Lonely Hearts Hotel sucked me right in and only got better and better, ultimately becoming much tougher, wiser than I was prepared for. I began underlining truths I had hungered for but never before read. By the end I was a gasping, tearful mess." – Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man

"A fairy tale laced with gunpowder and romance and icing sugar, all wrapped round with a lit fuse. Each of Heather O'Neill's sentences pricks or delights. If you haven't read her other books, start with this one and then read all of the rest." – Kelly Link, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Get in Trouble

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Reader Reviews

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Melanie Escobar

amazing
Always kept me engaged, one of my favourite books!

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Author Information

Heather O'Neill

Heather O'Neill is a novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter, and essayist. Lullabies for Little Criminals, her debut novel, was published in 2006 to international critical acclaim and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Born and raised in Montreal, O'Neill lives there today with her daughter.

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