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Review by Suze
Rose and Pierrot are orphans. When they were babies they were brought to an orphanage run by nuns in Montreal and that is where they have to grow up. Pierrot and Rose are both talented. Pierrot is a gifted piano player and Rose loves to dance and make people laugh. The orphanage is strict and there is little time to play and have fun, the nuns try to make the children's lives as miserable as possible, but Rose and Pierrot know they've formed a connection for life. When they are old enough to work they're being forced go their separate ways without having each other's address. Will their paths ever cross again?
Rose ends up in the claws of a dangerous man and it's difficult to get away from him. Pierrot has a good life being adopted by an older gentleman, but when his new father dies he ends up in deep trouble straight away. After many years Rose and Pierrot run into each other again. They can finally start making their childhood dream come true, a magnificent theatre show that is so spectacular that nobody has ever seen anything like it before. Working together is a big success, but will Rose and Pierrot ever find happiness after their difficult starts in life?
Pierrot is a brilliant piano player. He can play music written by others, but he can compose his own songs as well. Rose dances when he plays and their connection is a special one. They have a deep friendship, but there's also an attraction, a pull that makes it impossible for them to stay away from each other. Are they good together or are they too much? This is something I kept asking myself when I was reading The Lonely Hearts Hotel. Their relationship is complex, mainly because of others who are trying to come between them. Pierrot and Rose will never be unspoiled and life can be ugly, but in that ugliness there's beauty at the same time. It's what Heather O'Neill shows her readers in abundance, which is what I liked the most about this book.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a fantastic story that has many different layers. It's raw and shocking and very unique. Heather O'Neill kept surprising me and I was impressed by her vivid writing style. She writes about small undernourished and unhappy children in an orphanage, women who are being owned by men, addiction and rape with ease and irony, but also with plenty of sensitivity. The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a book with pizzazz. It's dazzling, entertaining and sparkling, but it's dark and gloomy sometimes as well. It's a strong, spellbinding story. Lives spiral out of control in a fast pace without any way for the main characters to stop it, which feels uncontrollable and inevitable. I was overwhelmed, amazed and hypnotized by this incredible whirlwind of a book.
If you want to be amazed, bedazzled and surprised you should definitely read The Lonely Hearts Hotel. The book is terrifically shocking.