The Lonely Hearts Hotel
By Heather O’Neill
Riverhead Books, Hardcover, 9780735213739, February 7, 2017, 400pp.
The Short of It:
Something magical lurks within these characters but they can’t quite escape their past.
The Rest of It:
Two babies are left to be raised in an orphanage in 1914. As they grow older, it’s obvious that they each possess their own, unique talents. Pierrot & Rose are sent to perform all over town while the orphanage benefits from these performances but when Pierrot is adopted after enduring years of sexual abuse at the hands of one of the nuns, Rose is left wondering why he’s left her without a word about where he’s gone.
The story follows Pierrot and Rose as they move into adulthood and unfortunately, the lives they lead are not easy ones. The story is quite dark but there is a fanciful feel to it which makes the story somewhat easier to read. They each find themselves doing whatever is needed in order to survive. For Pierrot, that’s stealing and for Rose that’s prostitution and pornography. In her mind, performance is always front and center. Her dreams of starting her own company begin and falter. She’s really a lost soul but just hasn’t realized it yet.
I’ve said to a few others that this book reminds me of The Night Circus and it does, in that it has clowns and dancers and haunting piano music playing out in the background. Visually, the author did a great job of setting the stage. However, it’s a very sad story. Rose’s desperation to be rich and famous eclipses nearly everything else. Pierrot’s love for Rose is so great that he makes the ultimate sacrifice for her.
I enjoyed The Lonely Hearts Hotel but there were moments where I wasn’t sure where the author was going with the story. Rose, is cold-hearted in my opinion and too full of herself which made the last third of the book hard to finish. There was quite a bit of back and forth and at some point, I felt as if the author wanted more of the fanciful, pretend world that the characters enjoyed when they were younger but that it was difficult to work it back into the story.
Some parts I enjoyed immensely but I did have some mixed feelings about Rose. I recommend this book to readers who like the dark, tragic side of love with a bit of whimsy thrown in.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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16 thoughts on “Review: The Lonely Hearts Hotel”
Anything that sounds like The Night Circus intrigues me! There was never another book after that…was there?
Nope. The Night Circus I thought was being made into a movie but I think it fell through or maybe I didn’t have the correct info to begin with. This book DOES have that feel but in between those bits of whimsy lies a very dark, tragic tale. I keep saying dark but it’s dark and you know me, I like dark. Maybe because the characters are so young and had such promise??
You are the only person I know who has read this unusual book. You have pretty much summed it up. I was torn about it. Impossible to recommend to book clubs. But there was a magic about it that kept me reading. I did love The Night Circus. Loved it. And the prose is lovely.
It is an odd book. I was surprised at how dark it got with Rose’s relationship with McMahon and her movie stint after that and all those pregnancies! It’s so tragic.
Hm, even after reading your thoughts, I’m on the fence with this one.
I finished it and I am still on the fence with it. I don’t mind dark so I know it wasn’t that. My hang-up really comes down to Rose’s character I think.
I loved the Night Circus and this has been on my TBR list for a while. Sounds good but like it has a few issues?
For me, it meandered a little towards the end and I wasn’t sure what the author’s intent was but the author did a great job with setting the stage. I could easily imagine the performances, the clowns, the costumes, etc. I loved Pierrot but not Rose which was a disappointment since I initially loved her so much in the story’s opening. If you don’t mind a dark story, because it does go very dark in my opinion, then give it a go. If I had to give it a star rating I’d give it a 3.5 if that helps.
Even though it sounds like you were not a fan of the book, your description makes me want to read it. How perverse is that?
Funny, because that is how I felt while reading it. It does draw you in. I was never bored with the story. The subject matter took a turn and just got super dark and yes, perverse!
This sounds intense. I’m not sure it’s a good book for me
Lots of sexually explicit content. This book is probably close to what you would get in the 50 Shades books. I haven’t read those books but from what I’ve heard about them I think what you get in this one is pretty close.
I love the Night Circus comparison, but this sounds kind of too sad for me. Just the nun thing already seems like more than I can handle.
I still haven’t read The Night Circus. This one sounds like a mixed bag
I don’t think you’d like this one or The Night Circus! Not bad books just not your thing.