The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill. Made it through 177 of 389 pages.
"The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one's origins. It might also take true love.
Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.
Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city's underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same."
This is the summary from Goodreads. Because I stopped about halfway through the book, I didn't feel like I could write a good summary. I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It might have been my mood when I was reading it, but as much as I liked parts of the characters, I found the story to be a bit depressing. The treatment of the children in the orphanage is awful, and while there are small bits of hope, there are also some disturbing things that happen to them. There was one detail that I found made it difficult to read about one of the characters, and since it's mentioned in the summary, it's not too much of a spoiler if I say that the fact that Pierrot becomes a heroin addict was a turn-off for me. While Rose and Pierrot both have some aspects to their lives that are somewhat charming, I just found a lot about their lives that was sad. I didn't get the feeling that something uplifting was around the corner, and it just became a turn-off of a read.
Each book their reader, and each reader their book, right? This wasn't my book.