THE LONELY HEARTS HO­TEL by Heather O’Neill, Ha­chette.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - BOOKS - LM

Rose and Pier­rot are two chil­dren grow­ing up in an early 20th-cen­tury Dick­en­sian or­phan­age in Mon­treal. Rose is a de­light­ful dancer with a steely core. Pier­rot plays the pi­ano like a dream, but is so lack­ing in guile he’ll be lucky to sur­vive his child­hood and the cru­el­ties of the De­pres­sion era that await. The Lonely Hearts Ho­tel is rem­i­nis­cent of Wa­ter for Ele­phants, the 2006 best­seller by Sara Gruen. Both tell a love story set in des­per­ate times, and fea­ture a cast of odd­balls, vil­lains and vic­tims. But The Lonely Hearts Ho­tel has a lit­tle ex­tra, a puck­ish charm, and an op­ti­mism that shines all the more brightly against the back­ground of poverty, drug abuse and or­gan­ised crime. Heather O’Neill’s writ­ing is spare and brisk but the story she cre­ates is as lush and mag­i­cal as a fa­ble.

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