There came a point when I was reading The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill that I did not want it to end. I had so fallen in love with her two main characters, Rose and Pierrot, that I was not ready to leave them. I actually did not read the last 15 pages of the novel for an entire day - just so that they could still be in my life. That is how good this book is.
The novel is the story of two orphans who meet after they are delivered to an orphanage as young children. Rose is a creative girl that can entertain you with just a flick of her hand and her imagination. Pierrot turns out to be a piano prodigy that can use music to move people to tears. Together they become a force of creative power. In the start of the novel, the orphanage uses their talents to make money. And as they work together, the two children become so involved in each others lives that not even space cannot separate them. This novel is dark, gritty and deals with some very tough themes. The children are not treated nicely by the nuns that run the orphanage. I do not want too spoil the story - but it will tear your heart out.
There comes a time where Pierrot is adopted by a wealthy man, and is removed from the life he has always known. Once he is gone, Rose is hired out to a family to be the nanny for two children. It is here that their lives really take off. Pierrot has to deal with addiction and poverty and Rose with the criminal side of life in Montreal - where they book takes place. After becoming adults in separate worlds, they are brought back together. Their story is harrowing, and I promise you will be on the edge of your seat. There is a fun section where Rose and Pierrot create a circus type act that is brought to the stage in America. There are gangsters and drugs, and all sorts of twists and turns I promise you will not see coming.
Heather O'Neill is a masterful writer. She can turn a page into a masterpiece. Her writing can be graphic and gritty, but also tender and endearing. There are entire pages I read more than once. She can paint such a picture of a character or a situation that you feel like you are watching a movie. For example, Rose had a reoccurring fantasy where she dances with an imaginary bear. This happens a number of times in the book, and each time I had a clear image of the bear and of how Rose entertained people while dancing with thin air. It is brilliantly done.
This book will not be for everybody. As I said, it tackles some very tough topics and has some very tough scenes. But if you want a book that reads like a modern dark fairy tale, with characters you will never forget - this is a book that you must read. I loved it, and will not easily forget the story of Rose and Pierrot.
Book Rating : 4 starts