Sandy's Reviews > A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies

A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies by Ellen Cooney
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U 50x66
's review
Sep 10, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: boston-environs
Read in September, 2009

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 Pastor's house next door where my friend Jeannie was growing up. We used to run up and down the sets of stair wells in each building and dart through the passages and adjoining doors, finding ourselves in the Advent School's basement kitchen or... in her sister's bedroom;... in the wings behind the altar where her father might be saying prayers to the gathered.... or on the third floor peeking in the classrooms of the School, (which we both attended). There we might burst through the adjoining fire door and whizz down the mahogany-railed stairway of her house to the family kitchen or only as far as her parents' bedroom. Then, off again, for another adventure, maybe through the beautiful stained glass church (where we weren't officially allowed) and down the long aisles flanked by warm wooden pews and through the heavy door into the hallway where the church's office was, then down the stairs and through the church basement into her basement, only to run out and make snow angles in her back garden, then around the corner and past the fire station and into her house again to start all over! It was great fun and adventurous and I just loved it.
In those years I'd often sleep-dream of such passages and tunnels between my grandmother's house on The Square and my own house a few streets away, as well as from Gama's house to my cousins' house many miles out in Lincoln.... It was a wonderous adventure filled time in my childhood and Cooney's quirky book has brought many of those memories back.... as well as the vicarious experience of the life of the times, with it's horses and carriages and funny manners, in Back Bay.

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