Whimsical Novel from Canadian Author: The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Review #spoilerfree

Like a tough meat turning tender in a homemade beef stew, Heather O’Neill’s newest novel, The Lonely Hearts Hotel, will toughen your heart with the abuse of two orphans, then mend it with a timeless love story of two quirky, yet magical destined sweethearts called Rose and Pierrot. This dark, peculiar, imaginative fairy-tale takes place in Montreal and NYC from the 1910s to 1940s.

lonely hearts hotel

Published in 2017 by HarperCollins. Picture from Goodreads.

After being sexually abused by her cousin, “Iggy”, a young teenager gave birth to her baby at the Hôpital de la Miséricorde. The baby was born blue, declared dead, then somehow came back to life. “The nuns at the orphanage called this baby Pierrot because he was so pale and he always had a rather stupid grin on his face.”

Another teenage mother gave birth to a baby girl in a bathtub, relinquished her newborn to a woman who, for a small fee, promised she would find a good home. The woman left the baby, and other infants, in a park to freeze in the snow. Miraculously, the baby girl was found and brought to the orphanage with blue marks on her cheeks. “All the girls at the orphanage were named Marie, and so was this baby girl. But her nickname, which she would always be known by, was Rose, because the two bright spots on her cheeks had turned from blue to red, then took two more weeks to disappear”.

Pierrot grew into a tall, blonde, slender performer with a natural piano-playing ability. Rose bloomed into a stunning young lady with dark hair, also an artist, she loved to create hilarious skits, and dance to Pierrot’s beautiful music.

Sister Eloïse had been sexually abusing Pierrot for years and was insanely jealous of how close Pierrot and Rose were becoming, which was heightened when Mother Superior decided to send Pierrot and Rose out to perform at local old-age homes and in order to make money for the orphanage. These outings gave them a chance to fall head-over-heels in love, and make plans for their Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza circus that they would one day run together.

A rich elderly man named Irving stopped at the orphanage to give his usual donation when he heard Pierrot playing the piano. He loved it so much that he adopted Pierrot so that he could listen to the alluring music every day. Sister Eloïse ripped up Pierrot’s goodbye letter to Rose while Rose was locked in the cupboard. Rose’s heart broke thinking she had been abandoned yet again. She left to work as a governess where she would mainly be looking after two children, Hazel and Ernest McMahon.

Pierrot wrote letters to Rose for years, which Sister Eloïse destroyed. And so, the two attempt to live life without each other, yet always yearning for the other. Rose becomes McMahon’s mistress, then porn actress, while Pierrot ends up a heroin addict playing the piano at a movie theater.

I love the way O’Neill writes. It’s absolutely sublime to read:

“His pupils always dilated for a split second when he was confronted with the truth. Once she saw his eyes turn black, he had already confessed to her.”

“She looked at the cheap wedding ring on her finger. She would always wear it. It was like a small snowflake that had landed on a mitten – and it was so beautiful. It was always just about to melt.”

The perspective bounces back and forth between Rose and Pierrot frequently. Sometimes you’ll get a full chapter from one perspective, then other times you only get one sentence. I found this annoying at first, but eventually became used to it, and as the story progressed found myself enjoying the jumping as if it were piano notes hopping around creating the rhythm of their story.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel reminds us about the importance of art, and how it can positively affect people even during the saddest, most desperate times. O’Neill also uses this story to highlight gender expectations, and I love the fact that Rose is a strong female, unafraid of the glass ceiling.

My only critique is that the lengthy section of the book where Rose and Pierrot are separated. We are left yearning for them to find each other for about two hundred pages. I was beginning to get a little bored with their continuous pining for each other.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel ultimately is about the power of hate versus the power of love. O’Neill weaved a story set in the Great Depression, with graphic sex scenes, drug addiction, abuse, violence, yet managed to teach us a touching lesson about true love, and forgiveness.

 

Truth or Dare #BookTag

Questions are down below so you can copy/paste. Be sure to share the link for your Truth or Dare Book Tag in the comments! I tag anyone who would like to do this tag 🙂

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

I’ve had Ramona and her Father on my shelf since 1989.

Ramona and her Father

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

lonely hearts hotel

 

Current Read: The Lonely Hearts Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tapestry of Tears

 

 

Last Read: A Tapestry of Tears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outlander

 

 

The book I’ll read next: Outlander

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

girl-on-the-train

 

Over 1.1 million ratings on Goodreads, with an average rating of 3.88. I didn’t HATE it. I don’t think I HATE any book, that’s a strong word. It’s not that I disliked The Girl On The Train, it just didn’t live up to the hype for me.

 

 

 

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

A Suitable Boy.jpg

 

A Suitable Boy, it has a great rating on Goodreads and sounds like a great read, however, it has 1474 pages, making it the longest book on my TBR at the moment. I’d love to read it, but not sure when I’ll be able to make that kind of commitment haha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

See question 4. LOL

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Wait till the end!

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

I always read all of the notes and acknowledgements. It’s an interesting glimpse into the author’s support system.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Miss Peregrine from Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children because it would be kickass to be able to change into a bird and fly.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

I was introduced to The Wheel of Time series by a friend while attending University, so when I think of those first books we read and discussed together it always brings me back to then.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

The book from question 1…is a book I borrowed from the library of my elementary school…but never returned. *SHAME*

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

I love to give books away…I try to find a book that I think they would like, can take something from, will make them laugh, or is pertaining to something they are going through at the time.

12. Which book has been with you most places?

The book from question 1 again…I’ve had it when I lived in Labrador, Newfoundland, British Columbia, and Ontario.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Shakespeare! I disliked it in high school, but when I read it in University for an English course I really liked it a lot.

14. Used or brand new?

Both, but new books do smell fantastic.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Not yet, but I have two on my shelf that I bought at a library sale.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Little-Women-bookcover.jpg

 

I loved the book Little Women, but the movie was even better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the movie. I just love it so much ♥♥♥♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

I own about 15 cookbooks, and every single one of them make me hungry!

RockRecipesCVR_FA_WEB

 

Rock Recipes is one of my favourite cookbooks. I was born and raised in Newfoundland, so I love to make “Newfie” meals.

 

 

 

 

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

My Dad and I share similar book taste, and Oprah has great book recommendations.

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

Dragon Teeth

 

I highly doubt I would have ever picked up Dragon Teeth to read. It was recommended to me by Netgalley, and have to admit I enjoyed every chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post the link to your Booktag in the comments! Or answer the questions in the comments 🙂

QUESTIONS:
The questions:
1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?
3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
5. What book are you saving for retirement?
6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?
7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
8. Which book character would you switch places with?
9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)
10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.
11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?
12. Which book has been with you most places?
13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
14. Used or brand new?
15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?
18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

May TBR

What I plan to read this month 🙂

Share your TBR in the comments!

lonely hearts hotel

 

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

By Heather O’Neill

Goodreads Blurb:

“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 1910. 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.”

Outlander.jpg

Outlander

By Diana Gabaldon

Goodreads Blurb:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

The STonekeeper's curse

 

The Stonekeeper’s Curse
Book 2 of the Amulet series
Graphic Novel
By Kazu Kibuishi

Goodreads Blurb:

“In this thrilling sequel to AMULET #1: THE STONEKEEPER, Emily and her brother Navin head for Kanalis, a beautiful and mysterious city of waterfalls, where they hope to find the antidote for the poison that felled their mother. That cure lies in the eggs of a giant serpent atop Demon’s Head Mountain, but the kids’ archenemy, Trellis, is headed for the peak, too. A battle that will engulf all of Kanalis is looming. It’s up to Em to triumph over evil while controlling the amulet’s power . . . without losing herself!”

Illuminae

Illuminae

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Goodreads Blurb:

“This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.”

The Friday Night Knitting Club

 

The Friday Night Knitting Club

By Kate Jacobs

Goodreads Blurb:

“Once a week, an eclectic group of women comes together at a New York City yarn shop to work on their latest projects – and share the stories of their lives…

At the center of Walker and Daughter is the shop’s owner, Georgia, who is overwhelmed with juggling the store and single-handedly raising her teenage daughter. Happy to escape the demands of her life, she looks forward to her Friday Night Knitting Club, where she and her friends – Anita, Peri, Darwin, Lucie, and K.C. – exchange knitting tips, jokes, and their deepest secrets. But when the man who once broke Georgia’s heart suddenly shows up, demanding a role in their daughter’s life, her world is shattered.

Luckily, Georgia’s friends are there for encouragement, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they’ve created isn’t just a knitting club; its a sisterhood.”