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Publisher's Summary

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 listener 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 listener along on a woman’s unforgettable journey to self-enlightenment. 

©2005 Ellen Cooney (P)2005 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"Cooney's story compels." (Publishers Weekly)

“Charlotte Heath is the most enticing heroine I’ve met in some time: tenderhearted yet obstinate, genteel yet deeply sensual. The adventure she takes us on is wonderfully eccentric, deliciously observed, and ends with the kind of gratifying surprise that reminds me why telling stories, and reading them, is such an essential pleasure in my life.” (Julia Glass, author of Three Junes)

What listeners say about A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies

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I wanted to like it

I did. I wanted very much to enjoy this story. A private hotel for gentle ladies? A runaway wife? Everything sounded intriguing- and because I want very badly to see how the story line is run, I'm putting up with the terrible story method.

You do not need every detail- some that would be impossible for the main character to know. The back and forth inner dialogue- yeesh.

I do. I don't. I do. I don't.

Understood, now please keep moving. Oh? Fifteen more minutes of incessant, inane, and idiotic babbling of nothing of consequence? Sure, go ahead...
What you write should mean something, otherwise this becomes more than the ditherings on of a pseudo heroine I wanted- from the summary alone- to like very much.
I am finishing the tale solely because I'd started it and now must finish it- as I do all books, regardless of quality.

Cassandra Campbell has given a wonderful performance to an otherwise awful book.

Please, don't waste your time.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

What Was This About?

I was so disappointed. I took this on a 7 day cruise dreaming of lounging on the deck, pina colada in hand, plugged into iPod....
The author (I think) is attempting to convey a message. I just kept wondering "does the author suffer from some long-term debillitating disease? Is that why she wrote about this young woman that has just barely escaped the horror of polio?