A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies
In 1900 Charlotte Heath pulls herself from her sickbed after many months of suspected polio and decides to surprise her husband, Hays, at his uncle’s wake. Instead, she is stunned to catch Hays about to kiss another woman, and Charlotte dashes off in sorrow to Boston. At a Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies, Charlotte locates the cook who once befriended her at her husband’s stifling mansion where, since her marriage, she has lived with his condescending relatives. Charlotte discovers that the denizens of this hotel all have eccentric secrets, and she finds her own strength and sensual capacity in one of the “night porters” that service the clientele. Charlotte now embarks on a journey to unravel her own humble past and perhaps allow Hays back into her life on her own terms.
Cooney’s story is full of earthy characters and situations you hate to leave. I only quibble that after just one night there the hotel proprietor insists, without proper instructions, that Charlotte be interviewed as a “typical hotel guest” by a policeman looking to expose the vice rumored to take place there. Her naïveté might have undone his entire operation. A delightful and intriguing read.