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A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladiesby Ellen Cooney
Synopses & Reviews
It is 1900 in a small, prosperous Massachusetts town. Charlotte Heath, a lively, independent redhead of humble beginnings, is married to the scion of the powerful Heath family. When, on her first outing after a long illness, she spies her husband, Hays, bending to kiss another woman in the village square, impulsive Charlotte heads her horses straight out of town. Unsure where to go but certain that she wants to leave both Hays and the stifling, if luxurious, life of the Heath household behind, Charlotte makes her way to Boston and checks in at “The Beechmont: A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies,” where she makes another startling discovery: the classy Beechmont is a rather unique institution, where handsome porters make discreet, late-night visits to its all-female clientele. Charlotte finds herself surrounded by a cast of characters that will delight the reader as she settles into life at this reverse brothel: Harry Alcorn, the hotel’s dashing and prescient proprietor; Miss Berenice Singleton, the bohemian painter who holds a kind of salon in her rooms; the scowling cook, Mrs. Petty, who once worked for the Heaths and is determined that Charlotte not stay on at the Beechmont; the charming and handsome “porter” Arthur, who both gives pleasure and makes trouble; and the venerable lady doctor Lily Heath, her husband’s aunt, whom Charlotte is amazed to find among the hotel’s regulars.
In the midst of a dizzying sexual enlightenment, Charlotte must puzzle out why she really left Hays and why he seems to have left her first. Her task is to determine whether she can forgive him and to discover where, if anywhere, she truly belongs–an adventure that takes her farther afield than she could ever have imagined.
Ellen Cooney has given us a remarkable portrait of a historical moment and an irresistible protagonist. Fresh, high-spirited, and wonderfully seductive in the telling, A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies carries the reader along on a woman’s unforgettable journey to self-enlightenment.
From the Hardcover edition.
Upset when she discovers her husband in an embrace with another woman, independent Charlotte Heath decides to leave her stifling but luxurious marriage and sets up housekeeping in Boston at The Beechmont, which turns out to be a male brothel in which handsome porters make discreet visits to the establishment's female clientele. Reader's Guide available. Reprint.
Charlotte Heath, a lively, independent redhead of humble beginnings, is married to the scion of the powerful Heath family. When, on her first outing after a long illness, she spies her husband, Hays, bending to kiss another woman in the village square, impulsive Charlotte heads her horses straight out of town.
Upon arriving at The Beechmont Hotel, Charlotte makes a shocking discovery: The classy Beechmont is a rather unique institution where a different kind of hospitality awaits the all-female clientele. Seductive and high-spirited, A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies is an unforgettable novel of one woman’s journey to self-enlightenment.
About the Author
Ellen Cooney is the author of five previous novels, most recently Gun Ball Hill, a story rooted in the unrest in the American Colonies just before the Revolutionary War. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Glimmer Train, Story, and The New England Review, among many other publications. She has taught creative writing at MIT, Boston College, and Harvard University. She lives in Phippsburg, Maine.
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