By Amy Ephron
From the back of the book:
Born to privilege, Rosemary Fell has wealth, well-connected friends, and a handsome fiancé, Philip Alsop. One cold and rainy night she sees, under a streetlamp, the mysterious Eleanor Smith huddled against the elements. In a moment of beneficence, Rosemary invites the penniless young woman home for a cup of tea. Arriving on the scene, Philip notices Eleanor warming herself by the roaring fire. When Rosemary sees them exchange an unmistakable look, she promptly sends the girl packing. But she’s too late. In that one brief moment, Rosemary’s carefully sculptured life has cracked beyond repair.
Just my opinion:
I can’t believe how much I loved this book. Amy Ephron penned this story in the style of some of the classic writers, almost reminding me of the Bronte sisters. It’s so enthralling, I finished it in one day … I absolutely could not put it down!
The story concerns only a handful of characters living in New York City in 1917. The U.S. has entered the war and there is a different sort of atmosphere – people are trying desperately to add some excitement to their lives and pretend the war doesn’t exist. However, with families receiving telegrams and visits from the war department on a daily basis to tell them of lost loved ones, there is an underlying desperation that leads them to react to things differently than they normally would.
And that’s exactly the basis of this story.
Rosemary has always lived somewhat in her own world of wealth and prestige, often spending much of her time alone or with a select group of friends. On rainy night, she spots a young woman huddled under a lamp post in the rain. The woman is cold and hungry. Rosemary invites the woman, Eleanor, to her home to have a cup of tea and warm her weary bones. She also provides her with some clean clothes. Rosemary’s fiancé Philip shows up and is immediately smitten by this lovely young lady he finds sitting in front of the fireplace and comments to Rosemary about her. He simply cannot take his eyes off Eleanor.
This concerns Rosemary, who tells Eleanor she must leave. She hands Eleanor a few dollars and sends her on her way. However, her friend, who is also at the house, follows Eleanor and gives her a lead on a job. Setting off a chain reaction, this series of acts changes all of their lives forever – leading up to the surprise ending of the book.
The copyright of A Cup of Tea is 1997, so this book has been out for a while. I’m anxious to look into some of Amy Ephron’s other works. Her books have some very interesting titles, such as Bruised Fruit, Biodegradable Soap and One Sunday Morning, that scream, “Read Me!” And according to the website Fantastic Fiction, she has a new book coming out in September with the title Loose Diamonds. I’m definitely going to check it out.
Some favorite passages from the book:
What good was it to have money if one didn’t sometime indulge.
It was like something one would read about, to find a girl in the dusk and bring her home for tea. … What good was it to have power, if one couldn’t be beneficent some of the time.
But do we ever raise our children, particularly those as pampered and protected as Rose has been, to deal with whatever unexpected occurrences life throws at them?
This was what it was then. She’d fallen in love. And she knew in her heart, even though the odds weren’t in her favor, there wasn’t anything else worth waiting for.