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A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies

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2.8  ·  Rating details ·  552 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
..carries the listener along on a woman's unforgettable journey to self-enlightenment in a reverse brothel. Unabridged 7 cassettes, 10 hours. Read by Cassandra Campbell.
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Kayleen
Dec 01, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only those desperate with insomnia
Recommended to Kayleen by: amazon
The review made this look interesting. It is not. It's like being forced to follow a dithering idle housewife around for a week. And not only have the utter boredom of watching her, but having to listen to her inner thoughts: Do I like this? I don't. I do. I don't. Will I go home to my husband? I will. I won't. I will. (Did I mention "dithering"?!)

Don't bother reading this. Do. Don't.

Andrea
If I had to sum this one up in a nutshell I’d say “A very well-written, lushly described book in which almost nothing happens, very few revelations are made, and there is almost no narrative progress”. I found this book frustrating. I liked the descriptions and the setting and the main character it just…NEVER went anywhere. Though I will say my utter impatience with this book may have been fueled by my recent encounter with The Alchemist's Daughter which had a similarly molasses-like pace but a ...more
Shannon K
Feb 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mediocre historical fiction in the vein of The Awakening but without the historical relevance. I found Charlotte to be predictable and the rest of the characters to be shallowly constructed. The premise promised intrigue and a bit more spice, but I was disappointed with both the Beechmont Hotel and Charlotte's supposed feminist enlightenment. Yes, she was physically and emotionally stronger by the end, but the book seemed to stop before Charlotte's potential was truly revealed. I was disappointe ...more
Angelica
Feb 17, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
So, I got about halfway through this book and I decided that I just can't go on with it anymore. It's poorly written, the protagonist is boring and confused and whiny, and it just isn't worth it. I hoped that it would get better, but it hasn't, so I have to put it (throw it) away.
DeAnna
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this novel and I'm surprised by the reaction some other readers have had to it. The writing is eloquent and layered, and I was completely swept up in the character's struggle and rich setting.

I wonder if the novel's title and description might have set up false expectations for readers. The story is about a woman striking out on her own after discovering her husband's infidelity. It isn't about questionable goings-on at the hotel for ladies where she takes refuge (though these are part
...more
Kate
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Such a good beginning: the likable protagonist observes her husband embracing another woman, and she takes off into the snowy landscape in her pretty little horsedrawn carriage. (See how engaging the whole scene is... at first?)

And it stays interesting for quite a while-- until we realize... sort of... that she has found herself in some sort of avant garde boarding house where handsome and intelligent young men make cozy love to the female residents. They seem to be simply very obliging fellows(
...more
Debbie
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Well.... thank goodness that's done. I forced myself through this book hoping it would get better and have some significant point. If it did, I missed it. My biggest complaint with the story however, is the incessant and tedious tangents into the thoughts of the main character that go on and on and on. There is no doubt that Charlotte is full of angst over her life, but these episodes could have been handled in a paragraph or two, not 5 pages. Lines like "I will, I won't, yes I will, no I won't" ...more
Amy
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Okay, first of all the cover of the version I had didn't look like this AT ALL! This story started out so well. I was taken in right away. I really felt for Charoltte Heath and was happy to go on this adventure with her. But along the way the story turned weird. I guess I missed that part in the book description. I couldn't understand why Charoltte, as she was presented in the beginning would make the choices that she made. It just didn't ring true for me. I guess I would have been a little more ...more
Sylvia Abrams
This historical novel is light reading. Ellen Cooney has created an improbable setting for her heroine, Charlotte, to internalize the shock of coming to terms with her life and, more importantly, her husband. After a siege of what appears to be polio, in 1900 New England, Charlotte flees to a small hotel in Boston, where the former Family cook is employed. A frantic set of interactions occurs with the feel of an old-time comedy. For a while I thought the heroine would undergo some major transfor ...more
Heather
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very good. It was about a woman who - after catching her husband in a compromising position - left, and began questioning her entire life. And in doing so, gave herself a taste of being a "modern" woman. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Laura Hine
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unusual period piece

Although not as unconventional as the character in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Charlotte combines a delightful sense of rebellion with an understanding of, and willingness to tolerate, the mores of her time and place. The author’s style is refreshing as well.
Sara Wright
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beyond excellent!

Well-drawn characters who were very believable. Hated for this book to end and look forward to reading more books by Ellen Cooney.
Jan
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable read. Almost wish it weren't a stand-alone as the storyline was well wrought and the characters full and intriguing.
Ktbird
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A woman's reclamation of her life after illness and seeing her husband's faithlessness. She learns about love and connection and fulfillment, and gains the courage to seek it for herself.
Kirsten
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I feel like I am reading a book written more in the style of Wharton language and plot-wise but not subject wise. There is hints of sex in this one. I liked the story, the slow plot, the odd but often one dimensional characters, the musings of the main character, etc. But only because I am a big fan already of Wharton and Austen. It won’t appeal to those looking for modern day style pacing and writing. I did dislike the suddenness of the ending.
Jennifer
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies focuses on Charlotte Heath, a woman around 30 married to the youngest son of a rich, prominent American family. After spending nearly a year in bed due to a mysterious, paralyzing illness, Charlotte ventures out and witnesses her husband, Hays, about to kiss another woman. Without much thought, Charlotte turns around and flees the town, arriving at the place of employment of her only friend, the Heaths' past cook. This is the hotel of the title - a hotel caterin ...more
Alice
This is the fourth book I've read on my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, which is comprised of books I've been meaning to read but hadn't gotten around to. Once again, I'm shaking my head at myself, wondering why I'd waited so long.

In this case, the answer is that, on its surface, this is another "cheating book." The action is sparked when Charlotte Heath, a headstrong young wife recovers from a long illness to discover her husband kissing another woman. She runs away to Boston, where she holes up in th
...more
Kathleen
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My local public library offers a number of creative ways to share books. One of these is a display of “Books Recently Read by Patrons,” and that is how I came to read this novel.

Ostensibly about women’s empowerment in 1900, the novel centers around Charlotte Heath, thirty-something, recently recovered from polio after six months in bed, very much smothered by her husband’s wealthy family’s disapproval (humble beginnings, no lineage, childless,) and an unsatisfactory relationship with her husband
...more
Sandy
Sep 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boston-environs
Not a very well crafted or well-written book but I still liked it as it takes place in Boston's Back Bay at exactly the same time (1900) that both of my mother's parents were growing up on Beacon Street, in the Back Bay. And Cooney's story involves the twisting, turning, labyrinthian connections between side-by-side houses that was not at all uncommon in those old days.
From my own childhood on Beacon Hill, I remember the wonderful fire doors on each floor between the Church of the Advent and the
...more
Devon
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed on amazon.com January 20, 2009

I was very excited to read this book after reading all of the great reviews I was expecting a funny and enlightening read about an early 1900's reverse brothel. The premise has the makings for a truly fantastic book. Yet, although it was an easy read and the prose was done well, it was...well, boring.

'A PRIVATE HOTEL FOR GENTLE LADIES' centers around Charlotte Heath who just off of her sick bed discovers that her husband is having an affair. At a loss as fo
...more
Elaine
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a romp with the unhappy and unfulfilled protagonist. What many previous reviewers seem to miss is that this novel is not about plot - it is about character. I would never categorize this as historical fiction. The events of the novel take place in a very compressed period of time, only a few days, in the midst and wake of a major snow storm. This, in itself, provides a slightly surreal backdrop in which the character of Charlotte is allowed to immerse her anger and betrayal, fears ...more
Ginger K
Misled by blurbs -- who me? Surely I am too savvy for that! Ha. The worst part about reading a book that doesn't match what the cover led me to expect (whether the expectation arose from the publisher's copy or from authorial and editorial praises) is that I'm never entirely sure whether I am disappointed by the book on its own merits or for failing to live up to the idea of the book that I'd thought I'd be reading.

I can say with certainty that this is a much more passive book than I expected o
...more
Felecia
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not terrible, but not the most appealing or enticing thing to read.

I give props to the author for her catchy title as that is what initially prompted me to pick up the book and read the synopsis. Seemed interesting enough and the first chapter was pretty catching. It wasn't until you began to enter into the heart of the manuscript that you felt certain dialogues were a bit daft and certain scenarios dismal.

And yet, there were just enough appealing features in the book such as Charolotte Heath (
...more
Abigail Feliciano-fulmer
Interesting writing style. I have to say that in the beginning, the off-beat, wandering style of writing had me in quite a tizzy, but as I began to enter the meat of the book I liked the writing style that I found:

"All of her life, even though she'd developed the skill of keeping most of her thoughts to herself, people had told her she had to much imagination, as if that were an awful thing, like an abnormally thickened, embarrassing muscle, which would bulge below the skin indecently, when musc
...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Ellen Cooney is a local author--her books are set in Boston or Eastern Massachusetts. I love place as a character, and selfishly, I love reading about Boston. Cooney's A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies is set in the early 20th century, and details the goings-on of a Beacon Hill brothel (for women!).

Red-headed Charlotte married into a rich New England family and succumbed to a mysterious malaise that kept her bedridden for years. Stepping out one winter day, she catches her husband passionately e
...more
Kendra
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kendra by: Jenny
Shelves: book-club
This book had amazing potential but I just couldn't get into it because of the way it was written. There was a contradiction to the author's writing. A lot of things were happening and yet I feel as though nothing happened. Cooney would provide various back stories and descriptions, but never explained exactly what was going on.

The fact that I didn't love this book makes me sad, because the story line really is interesting. This woman, Charlotte, runs off to a hotel in Boston after seeing her h
...more
karenbee
Somehow I got A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies mixed up with The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in my head, and I stayed confused until I was starting to read it, then I read the cover copy and was like whaaaat genteel porn what? I don't even remember buying/swapping for this one.

It turns out Ellen Cooney has NOT actually written genteel porn -- at least not in this novel -- although there are a couple of mildly explicit (does that make sense?) sexual references in A Private Hotel.

Eh, it was o
...more
Marlene
Very odd book. I'd have to agree with the Publishers Weekly review that the narrative is bumpy and disjointed because of the weird use of memories and lengthy digressions, which tried my patience, as did the heroine. The first half was promising, and I liked the very beginning, where she suddenly comes upon her husband in a snowy public park about to kiss another woman. But once she flees to the private hotel, the book became a slog, with characters and situations introduced for no discernible r ...more
Jenny
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I'm not sure where to begin with this book.

I feel a little like Charlotte in the story- Did I like it? Yes. Did I not like it? Yes. Was I keen to finish it? Yes. Did I care about her and her life? Yes. No.

See? I can write just like Ellen Cooney, haha!

I think my most biggest problem with this book is that there was no point to it. It was kind of a coming of age story - but only halfway. I liked that it was set in 1900 but there wasn't a ton of cool time-place stuff. Why couldn't this have happen
...more
Rachel
Apr 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not get this book at all. This is one of those books I picked up to read on a plane. It never grabbed my interest - which is maybe why it took me almost a year to read. I could never quite give up on it though because I wanted to find out what happened. From the title, I assumed it would be a somewhat juicy read. It is not at all.

I won't spoil anything, but by reading the book's description you find out that a woman leaves her husband because she thinks he is cheating on her. She ends up
...more
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“She was healthy & thriving, like a weed: a weed with no interest in trying to become, say, a proper flower.” 3 likes
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