The Lonely Hearts Hotel

On that day in 1914, a young girl banged on the door of the Hôpital de la Miséricorde in Montreal.

Boy, does this author love her metaphors like a dog likes a bone. Don’t use them as a drinking game, you will end up in the hospital. Even though it’s becoming quite noticeable after a while, I have to admit that they add to the fairy-tale like feeling this story already has. The development and rise of orphans in Great Depression North America, involving clowns and mobsters, maybe they deserve a metaphor every other sentence.

Main characters are Pierrot and Rose and share the chapters whenever they are together or apart. They’ve got very different views on life and what they want from it; making the fairy-tale like feeling disappear before it can give a (happy) end.

Besides that, there’s the surroundings this plays out in. Montreal with its alive snow, New York with the buildings full of possibilities and risks. It’s all written very visually, which neatly distracts from the small plot holes or just hiccups it provides. This story is pretty and enticing; everything else is subordinate to it.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill, Riverhead Books 2018

Fates and Furies

A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping.

It’s been five days since finishing this and I still don’t know how to subscribe it without feeling like I’m undermining it. No, it’s not just a love story, yet what else is there but the decades of loving and marriage between a man and a woman?

It’s both sides of their story, it’s the views from the outside(rs), it’s how family and society builds and breaks, all coming back to Lotto and Mathilde. It’s written in such a way that the mundane and the boring have a pull, and even when you feel your eyes wander just a little, there’s the gem that’s Lotto and Mathilde (not Mathilde and Lotto, as you will learn) to guide you back to them, to assure you that this is there for a reason.

It’s been a while since I’ve been swept off my feet by a book, but this one definitely tugged at my feet aggressively, pulling me under several times.

Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff, Riverhead Books 2015

The Book of Night Women

People think blood red, but blood don’t got no colour.

People who say that we live in a post-racial society are talking bullshit. People who say that (Western) society can only become race-issue free when we forget everything that happened in the past, need to make an obligatory reading of this. This is a past that should never be forgotten. How we live with it should be the discussion, not how we should ignore/shove it away.

Onwards. The Book Of Night Women tells the story of Lilith, through her eyes. Her mother was a teen slave that got raped by her master. Lilith works in the house of a plant on Jamaica. She’s treated differently by the other slaves because she’s a house slave over the field slaves, but more importantly: she has “white” eyes. Lilith is a half breed, too dark for the white people, too white for the other slaves.

The slaves are considered as something less than animals, somewhere between a faulty piece of equipment and a moral-less, emotionless creation. If you whip, kick or burn one to death, you buy another one. You take their children, because they can’t raise them themselves properly. And there’s no end to it.

All this lies heavy on the heart, but never gets so depressing that it puts you off reading on. The surroundings Marlon James shows could star in a travel guide, the characters are extraordinary without making the mistake of making them the Exotic Ones.

I recommend it.

The Book of Night Women, Marlon James, Riverhead Books 2009