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

3.3 out of 5 stars 140 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mercedes J. VINE 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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
This was profoundly disappointing. The premise is hackneyed, the story is predictable, and the ending is almost
laughably melodramatic. While it's a quick read (because many of the chapters are two pages long or less, as if each were
written in a hurry), it still felt like a waste of time. It isn't even up to the standards of cheap romance novels; at least
those strive to be entertaining. This book seems listless, as if the author was so bored by her own characters that she just
wanted to get the story written as quickly as possible. Presumably the editor was in a hurry, too; the text has the sloppiest
editing I've ever come across. The usage and grammar are awkward (a character "sort of vaguely" makes a gesture); the punctuation is annoyingly haphazard. If neither the author nor the editor care enough to put a minimal amount of effort into
the book, you shouldn't put any effort into reading it, either.
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