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A novel about childhood damage and the redemptive power of art.A novel about childhood damage and the redemptive power of art.
Two children were born in the Montreal winter of 1914: Pierrot of a twelve-year-old girl named Ignorance; Rose, rescued from a snowdrift. They were fated to meet in the Catholic orphanage. There, in the face of cold, hunger and unpredictable beatings, Rose and Pierrot create a world of talking bears, of circus tricks and a secret language; shielding the spark of their curiosity from the terrorism of those meant to protect them. But even the most extraordinary of spirits can be hurt - especially when it comes disguised as love - and Rose and Pierrot are torn 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. Rose has the means, Pierrot the talent; but their fame will come at a cost, for in the roaring twenties little that is pure remains so for long, and understanding this will bring Rose to a new destiny.
Heather O'Neill's 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 pre-war Montreal and Prohibition New York, to a theatre of magic where anything is possible - where an orphan girl can become a gangster queen, and a ruined innocence can be redeemed.