2011: 54. A Private Hotel For Gentle Ladies


“Charlotte Heath was in such a hurry to get to her husband it took her a while to notice the absence of her bells.”

A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies, Ellen Cooney

Well, this is an odd little novel. Set around the turn of the century (the last century) its starts with our heroine, Charlotte, finally getting out of her long sick bed and going to find her husband - only to find him kissing another woman.  Devastated, she flees, ending up at a strange hotel for women only, which turns out (SPOILER) to be a brothel - where men service women.  Through this Charlotte meets new people, finds herself, and learns about love, yaddi yadda.   

So where to start.  Ok, well I picked this up off my mom’s shelf, and (sorry mom) at one point, I even thought, oh my lord, this is porn.  It isn’t, thanks be, but it’s strange.  The plot makes no sense - I just do not believe in a 19th century place where women can find flowering and understanding through young nubile men.  And it’s a shame, because without that angle, there is a lot here, with Charlotte as she unpacks her past and figures out her marriage.  BUT, there is also a little too much going on here.  Charlotte’s marriage, her vague upbringing, other people’s secrets (like the prostitute who stole the maid’s life story).  Too much is brought up and not really developed, so the book has a dream-like, half baked feel.  I liked the way Cooney developed her characters, but her plots needed more thought, since it wanders everywhere and ends up no where.

Categories:  Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017