In her follow-up to "White Rose" and "A Cup of Tea," Amy Ephron has written another historical novel destined to please her fans. The three books...
“One Sunday Morning”
by Amy Ephron
Morrow, 213 pp., $21.95
In her follow-up to “White Rose” and “A Cup of Tea,” Amy Ephron has written another historical novel destined to please her fans. The three books are a cut above straight chick lit, only because they are evocative of a time and place long gone, rather than hip, here and now. They aren’t straight romance because her characters actually do kiss — and more. So, what are they? They are historical novels of character, faithfully recreating the concerns and mores of a bygone era.
In “White Rose,” the story is loosely based on an actual woman of 1890s Cuba, a spirited señorita jailed for her part in the Revolution against Spain, who falls in love with the journalist sent to rescue her. In “A Cup of Tea,” set during World War I, a young New York debutante sees a miserable, shivering girl in the street and spontaneously invites her in for tea. The deb’s fiancé happens by, catches a glimpse of the formerly drowned rat, now fluffed up and full of tea — and the world turns upside down. Well, yes, it really does.
In Ephron’s new book, “One Sunday Morning,” four friends at a bridge party in 1920s New York catch sight of 20-year-old Lizzie Carswell leaving a hotel with Billy Holmes, a man not her husband, rather early in the morning. They vow to tell no one, lest Lizzie’s already questionable reputation be further sullied. But within the hour, alas, everyone who is anyone knows, including Clara, Billy’s fianceé. Betsy, Lucy, Iris and Mary, the women who saw Lizzie, have agendas of their own, all mightily concerned with the preservation of the status quo. It appears that Lizzie and Billy are beyond the pale. Lizzie’s father dispatches her to Paris to be a nanny — a fate, apparently, worse than death.
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All is not what it seems, however. Billy Holmes disappears, and another man is found drowned; these events appear to be connected. Lucy gets married, Iris and Mary go to Paris with Betsy, where they see Billy and Clara, now also married. Lizzie turns up as well, without anyone’s children in tow. So it is in Paris, just far enough from the strictures of upper-class New York, that all their stories play out — sadly, surprisingly or predictably.
In the grand scheme of things, this might seem slight. But, one Sunday morning, put a white rose in a vase, pour a cup of tea, give this story a couple of hours, and it will entertain you.