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When We Lost Our Heads

por Heather O'Neill

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2189126,517 (3.86)23
"A spellbinding story about two girls whose friendship is so intense it not only threatens to destroy them, it changes the trajectory of history. Marie Antoine is the charismatic, spoiled daughter of a sugar baron. At 12 years old, with her blond curls and her unparalleled sense of whimsey, she's the leader of all the children in the Golden Mile, an affluent strip of 19th century Montreal. Until one day in 1873, when Sadie Arnett, dark-haired, sly, and brilliant, moves to the neighborhood. Marie and Sadie are immediately united by their passion and intensity, and they attract and repel each other in ways that light each of them on fire. Marie with her bubbly charm sees the light and sweetness of the world, whereas Sadie's obsession with darkness is all consuming. Soon their childlike games take on a thrill of danger and then become deadly. Forced to separate, they spend their teenage years engaged in acts of alternating innocence and depravity-until a singular event unites them once more, with dizzying effects. And after Marie inherits her father's sugar empire and Sadie disappears into the city's gritty underworld, a revolution of the working class begins to foment. Each of them will have unexpected roles to play in events that upend their city-the only question is whether they will find each other once more. Traveling from a repressive finishing school to a vibrant brothel, taking readers firsthand into the brutality of factory life and the opulent lives of Montreal's wealthy, When We Lost Our Heads dazzlingly explores gender and power, sex and desire, class and status, and the terrifying power of the human heart when it can't let someone go"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Deliriously decadent, wry, and darkly charming. I’m obsessed with the fanciful imagery and writing; it skews way more towards “tell” rather than “show”, but it works so well here! This book is like if someone made a queer retelling of Sofia Coppola’s 2006 “Marie Antoinette” and then injected it with cocaine, women’s rage, and sugar. ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
I am finishing this book at the end of a cycle of six recent books by and about women including The Foundling, by Ann Leary, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, I’m Glad I My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy, and She Holds Up the Stars by Sandra Laronde (for young adults).

The theme of women in evolution or revolution is consistent with all of these books. Closest to O’Neill’s satirical and scatological novel is Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, although both are deadly serious in these post-ME TOO books.

O’Neill is one of our funnier Canadian writers. She comes from the same rich vein of Quebec humour that animates Mordecai Richler, Roch Carrier, and the social commentary of Gabriel Roy, and Mavis Gallant.

I come from Toronto not Montreal and only dream of a writer who can do for the streets of Toronto what Heather O’Neill does for the streets and history of Montreal.

She creates a counterpoint of revolution between the French Revolution beginning in 1789 and another imagined revolution in Montreal in the mid nineteenth century roughly contemporary with the social revolutions of Europe including the Revolutions of 1848 that rocked Paris, the German states, Ireland, Hungary, Denmark, Moldavia, Poland, and others.

It is sometimes called The Springtime of Peoples.

This book might be dubbed “The Springtime of Righteous Pornography.”

Her characters carry the names of French revolutionaries including Jean-Paul Marat, Robespierre, thrown in with other characters in popular imagination including Marie Antoinette and the Marquis de Sade. Then she adds what appears to be one of her literary heroines, an ugly but prolific cross dressing George Sand.

We watch the evolutions of an artist and a capitalist. We also see women rise from their chains. From the control of rapists in the mold of film producer Harvey Weinstein. And we see women rise from the chains of gender, the suffocation of conventions placed on their sexuality, the writings of history where women have been written out.

Of course, this story is something of a Western-centric liberation fractured fairytale. We know that women in other cultures are far from liberation. Likewise people of other genders.

In an interview O’Neill herself tells us she intentionally satirized the “lean in” feminism of Sheryl Sanberg through Marie Antoine who becomes something of a she-devil after the death of her father and rape by her suitor.

Her lover and childhood friend Sadie takes to the pen to liberate herself from Victorian social mores.

The dénouement the story is something of a Wildean escapade with missing family members, revenge, and shocking revelations.

O’Neill took her time mashing genres. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
An enjoyable read but very low residue. Can’t remember it at all! ( )
  Dabble58 | Nov 11, 2023 |
Absolutely one of my favorite books of the year
  parasolofdoom | Oct 3, 2023 |
I loved it. Every bit of it.

This is the story of two young girls, Marie and Sadie, who becomes friends, are separated by a tragic event, and reunite later in life. They both achieve notoriety in life: Marie as a heart-hearted factory owner and Sadie as a writer of pornography. I loved their characters, the feminism in the story and the parallels to the French Revolution. Set in the 1800s when women had few rights and fewer options, many of the women in this story are powerful and resilient.

So well done....very imaginative. ( )
  LynnB | May 15, 2023 |
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In a labyrinth constructed out of a rosebush in the Golden Mile neighborhood of Montreal, two little girls were standing back-to-back with pistols pointed up toward their chins.
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"A spellbinding story about two girls whose friendship is so intense it not only threatens to destroy them, it changes the trajectory of history. Marie Antoine is the charismatic, spoiled daughter of a sugar baron. At 12 years old, with her blond curls and her unparalleled sense of whimsey, she's the leader of all the children in the Golden Mile, an affluent strip of 19th century Montreal. Until one day in 1873, when Sadie Arnett, dark-haired, sly, and brilliant, moves to the neighborhood. Marie and Sadie are immediately united by their passion and intensity, and they attract and repel each other in ways that light each of them on fire. Marie with her bubbly charm sees the light and sweetness of the world, whereas Sadie's obsession with darkness is all consuming. Soon their childlike games take on a thrill of danger and then become deadly. Forced to separate, they spend their teenage years engaged in acts of alternating innocence and depravity-until a singular event unites them once more, with dizzying effects. And after Marie inherits her father's sugar empire and Sadie disappears into the city's gritty underworld, a revolution of the working class begins to foment. Each of them will have unexpected roles to play in events that upend their city-the only question is whether they will find each other once more. Traveling from a repressive finishing school to a vibrant brothel, taking readers firsthand into the brutality of factory life and the opulent lives of Montreal's wealthy, When We Lost Our Heads dazzlingly explores gender and power, sex and desire, class and status, and the terrifying power of the human heart when it can't let someone go"--

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