The Lonely Hearts Hotel
by Heather O'Neill
Pub Date 23 Feb 2017
'Joyful, funny and vividly alive' Emily St John Mandel
'The Lonely Hearts Hotel sucked me right in and only got better and better . . . I began underlining truths I had hungered for' Miranda July
'Makes me think of comets and live wires . . . raises goosebumps' Helen Oyeyemi
'A fairytale laced with gunpowder' Kelly Link
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with a difference. Set throughout the roaring twenties, it is a wicked fairytale of circus tricks and child prodigies, radical chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians and brooding clowns, set in an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss.
It is the tale of two dreamers, abandoned in an orphanage where they were fated to meet. Here, in the face of cold, hunger and unpredictable beatings, Rose and Pierrot create a world of their own, shielding the spark of their curiosity from those whose jealousy will eventually tear them apart.
When they meet again, each will have changed, having struggled through the Depression, through what they have done to fill the absence of the other. But their childhood vision remains - a dream to storm the world, a spectacle, an extravaganza that will lift them out of the gutter and onto a glittering stage.
Heather O'Neill's pyrotechnical imagination and language are like no other. In this she has crafted a dazzling circus of a novel that takes us from the underbellies of war-time Montreal and Prohibition New York, to a theatre of magic where anything is possible - where an orphan girl can rule the world, and a ruined innocence can be redeemed.
“Heather O'Neill's style is laced with so much sublime possibility and merciless actuality (and vice versa) that it makes me think of comets and live wires and William Blake's Ttyger . . . between prose like that and a story like this, you have a book that raises goosebumps and the giddiest of grins more or less simultaneously” - Helen Oyeyemi
“Because this book is so filled with delightful things - bold and complex sex; heartache and wickedness and glittering hearts - 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
“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
“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
“Like [Angela] Carter, O'Neill subverts her stories with an adult and casually seamy emphasis, and she is relentlessly inventive” - Sunday Times, on Daydreams of Angels
“Bombards the reader with piercing observations and magical imagery . . . Full of pathos, spirit and overwhelmingly, an iridescent innocence” - Independent, on Lullabies for Little Criminals
“Entrancing and antic and sensual as a dream” - Guardian, on The Girl who was Saturday Night