It’s an error to choose this novel for the magic described in the cover summary.
Let’s start by saying that The Lonely Hearts Hotel is not a novel for everyone: there are numerous graphic scenes of poverty, violences and abuses. The story opens with a little girl who is raped and it brings us among orphans and in the downtown where the two main characters end up living.
Pierrot and Rose meet in orphanage, then their life diverge for some years till the great reunion and the realization of their show, The Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza. Again, maybe speaking about two protagonist is kind of lie: Rose and Pierrot are very different for the way they behave, and the story is more focused on Rose, the only of them who always is working for a personal realization.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel in my opinion is mostly a book about the women condition at the beginning of 1900 in Montreal: the women were neglected and always exploited, either they were poor prostitutes or rich wives and lovers. And Rose is aware of this since her childhood – the idea of the imaginary bear – but she chooses not to accept it and to work towards something different. In this sense Pierrot is the perfect man for her, because he loves her so much to allow her to be free.
The lonely hearts hotel is the ending point of the story, that develops in various hotel which names reflects the life of the characters and their emotions.
It’s a novel about strong themes that are dealt in a lyric and with sometimes unconventional images (Rose and Pierrot are always clowns), but reading it in search of the magic of other novels (like The Night Circus) is doubly wrong because of disillusioned expectation and the inability to see this novel strong points.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.
* The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill ★★★★☆
*I read this book in english