We gave it a C+
Vicki Covington’s (Gathering Home, Bird of Paradise) fourth novel The Last Hotel for Women is based on the Freedom Rides of 1961 and opens as a racially mixed group of civil rights workers arrive on buses in Birmingham, Ala., to protest segregation — only to be met with violence. Journalists who’ve flocked to witness the demonstration are camping out at a hotel run by a liberal-minded woman named Dinah Fraley. The hotel was once run by Dinah’s mother, a prostitute, for prostitutes, and this checkered background makes Dinah more empathetic to the plight of minorities. The challenge of basing a novel on a historical event lies in finding the proper narrative vision. Unfortunately, Covington tries to give a panorama of that moment in time through shifting points of view, and the overall effect is diffuse.