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A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917 Paperback – June 28, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060786205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060786205
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,772,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Cup of Tea adds a touch of class--and a love triangle--to the classic theme of parallel lives and their accidental crossing. New York City, in the uncertain days of World War I, is home to Rosemary Fells, who is the sort of woman with the time to strike stunning poses and rearrange her curls; Eleanor Smith, whom Rosemary finds under a street lamp, miserable and shivering, is certainly not. Miss Fells indulges a whim of beneficence, whisking "the creature" home to share warmth, tea, and a change of clothing. Once clean and dry--fortified with sandwiches and brandy--young Eleanor and Rosemary's fiancé meet in the hallway and exchange a look, the kind of look that will forever change the course of their lives.

A Cup of Tea is a well-crafted, terse novel that reads like a good short story. It's a refreshing step back to yesterday, a time when the fates picnicked on the glass slopes of privilege. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA. Rosemary Fell, privileged and accustomed to having all that she wants, is set to marry Philip Alsop. Of the same social class, Philip struggled years to build his own shipping concern into a success after the death of his father. Now their future together seems to promise happiness. Then Rosemary invites Eleanor Smith home with her, offering the seemingly penniless young woman temporary shelter from the weather. Instead, Philip instantly falls in love with her and the star-crossed love pulls all three characters into a dramatic, sorrowful ending. Ephron writes short, intense chapters, yet allows room for emotions and imagination to expand fully. She maintains interest by ending the chapters exactly at the next eventful point in the story, making the novel a natural page-turner. Sustaining the tension between the characters, while subtly interweaving more complexities of the plot, the author builds towards the intense conclusion. Using precise historical details of 1917 New York society, from clothing to moral attitudes, Ephron captures the ambiance of the era as well as the differences in lifestyles between the wealthy and working classes.?Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I have a theory that single women who buy champagne by the case rarely end well. Disclaimer: I've been known to make generalizations based on a case study of four.
From "Loose Diamonds...and other things I've lost and found along the way", in the story titled, 'Champagne By the Case' which was also published in The New York Times' "T" Magazine's August 2011 womens' issue.

(Sometimes) out of chaos comes order.
(a modern twist on the Neitzsche quote.)

Amy Ephron is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. In addition to her novels and non-fiction books and essays which have appeared in Vogue, House Beautiful, the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, etc, she has a column at The New York Times' "T" on-line called "L.A. POV" which skitters around fashion, entertainment, food, art, architecture, & occasionally the criminal court system.

author's note: I first read the word "skitters" in Kay Thompson's "Eloise at the Plaza," which is still one of my favorite books.

Customer Reviews

The story characters are real as is the dialogue.
NightOwl
I found the story to be predictable in parts and I found the author's ending to be very disappointing.
Eyes2Read
I read this for a book group or would not have finished it.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. I noticed that not to many people here seemed to like it, but I wasn't expecting literary genius when I picked this up. This is a very short (only 200 pages) little book about how much one woman's life changed with the passing of a look.

Set in 1917 NYC, Rosemary, a very prominent society girl, decides to help a young woman, Eleanore Smith, by getting her off the street corner and out of the rain, to bring her home for a cup of tea and some dry clothes. While there, Rose's fiancé Philip comes by, and an unmistakable look of want passes between he and Eleanore. Rose quickly gets the girl out of the house and thinks nothing more of the incident.

But Philip hasn't forgotten about the beautiful young woman, and what takes place in the following pages forever changes the lives of everyone one involved. I finished this book in a day, just picking it up in between chores and other things. It was very hard to put back down. The chapters are very small, only a few pages, and you'll become engrossed in this book from the first one. I highly recommend this book as a great afternoon read. You won't be disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By doctor_beth #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
This short novel takes place in New York City at the time that America enters World War I. However, I wouldn't call it a historical novel per se, as the story is mainly character-driven with the historical elements serving only as a minor backdrop. The book's plot revolves around two women: Rosemary Fell, a young woman of means who is about to be married, and Eleanor Smith, a destitute girl barely of age who Rosemary reaches out to on impulse. Eventually, this leads to a love triangle which is clearly destined to come to a bad end. The book is a very quick read, not only because it is only 200 pages long but also because each chapter is just 2-4 pages long. It provided me with adequate entertainment for an hour or two, but not to the extent that I would strive to recommend it to others. However, if you are looking for a brief diversion, this little novel might fit the bill.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Within the first few pages I knew I was in trouble. When I read that the antique store owner was "all over her," I wondered at the claims that Ephron had recreated the aura of an era. In fact, the numerous anachronistic colloquialisms and skin deep historical background destroyed any notion of atmosphere. Caleb Carr's "Alienist," though of a different genre, is a great example of how an author DOES capture and convey the spirit of a time. In addition, Ephron's writing style, reminiscent of a pretentious sixth-grader, was very annoying. Almost as annoying were the ridiculously short chapters which disrupted or destroyed the development of any sense of flow to the story. Finally, her characters are incredibly one-dimensional. Some may say that this reflects the social conditions of the time, but all one needs to do is look at F. Scott Fitzgerald's work (many of which were written within 4-10 years of 1917) to see that one CAN create complex and compelling characters within a class-conscious and restrictive social structure ("The Great Gatsby," any one?). Is Ephron just resting on her (or her sister's?) laurels, or is she just a bad writer? I don't think I'll try to find out.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Traci Watson on October 10, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
don't let the number of pages fool you. this little book has some meat on its bones. the strengh of this books comes with its characters. i found myself thnking about them and wondering how i would react in such situations. my book club had a great discussion about true motives, dishonesty and appearances. this book will make you think; always a good thing.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Absolutely dreadful. Where was this woman's editor? The plot is the sort of thing a pre-adolescent girl might dream up, the characters are as dull as can be, and my 5-year-old can construct a better sentence than Ephron. At first, I kept reading because I thought there had to be a reason the book was this bad -- perhaps the author was playing some kind of trick on us. When it became clear she was serious, I started actually enjoying the book's awfulness, waiting to see how bad it could possibly get. Pretty darn bad, as it turns out, culminating in an absolutely ludicrous ending.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on October 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
First off, this really is more of a novella or short story. It should take most readers under an hour and there's not much to focus on. The period detail consists of a hat shop and a few mentions of WWI and trenches. That's about it. If you want a New York period piece, try Jack Finney's Time and Again. I just read this and Richard Paul Evan's latest book in the same two day span. They both share a nice story, simple plot and two dimensional characters with sketchy love stories. Pretty blah. If you want to see the difference, pick up the work of a great writer -- I just started Philip Roth's The Human Stain and its writing alone blows these fluffy books away. If not for her name, I don't think any publisher would have jumped at this run-of-the-mill story. I enjoyed the book, but it was not a work of art. Stick to the Mansfield story it was based on.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a disastrous attempt to take an absolute gem of a short story by Katherine Mansfield and trample it into the likes of "Maggie, a Girl of the Streets." I'm sure Ms. Ephron shares my love of KM and Edith Wharton (of whom she also may have been thinking when she drafted this horror), but even as a dreamy-eyed would-be writer in my college days, I knew better than ever to try to finish one of KM's unfinished masterpieces ("The Dove's Nest": WAS Mr. Walter Prodger "a sharper"? would Miss Anderson be led astray from her comical brand of Roman Catholicism?)--let alone such a perfect short story! Characterizations in the current work are straight out of Nancy Drew (you might recognize Hannah Gruen and George Fayne among the cast of added characters; Sam from "Casablanca" makes a brief appearance), and grammatical errors ("whom" instead of "who," dangling modifiers galore) are ongoing; one two-dimensional fortune-teller even uses the "f" word! The author never shows, she tells and tells and tells. Nothing is left to the imagination, including a contrived return-from-the-dead scene and a violent, if predictable, "ironic" murder. It takes more than old-fashioned spellings (eg, chequebook) to recreate New York City in 1917 (which certainly predates the "mobile," yes?). I'm surprised I didn't notice amazon's 2-1/2-star rating when I ordered this book; it just got lower, and I'll pay closer attention from now on. The good news is that Ms. Ephron has prompted me to get out my cherished collected stories of KM and enjoy, enjoy once again.
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