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One Sunday morning four women at a bridge party in the elegant Gramercy Park Hotel see a beautiful young woman whom they all know leaving a nearby hotel with a man who is not her husband. The sight of twenty-year-old Lizzie Carswell with Billy Holmes is shocking and potentially ruinous. And though the ladies do not know the whole story — and despite their mutual promise to keep what they've seen to themselves — it is only a matter of time before one of them talks . . . with ...
One Sunday morning four women at a bridge party in the elegant Gramercy Park Hotel see a beautiful young woman whom they all know leaving a nearby hotel with a man who is not her husband. The sight of twenty-year-old Lizzie Carswell with Billy Holmes is shocking and potentially ruinous. And though the ladies do not know the whole story — and despite their mutual promise to keep what they've seen to themselves — it is only a matter of time before one of them talks . . . with heartbreaking consequences for them all.
In One Sunday Morning, author Amy Ephron brilliantly navigates the social contradictions of Jazz Age New York society and brings a remarkable time and place to glorious life with a riveting drama of gossip, indiscretion, secrets, and betrayal.
"She never did understand what it meant to be proper," said Betsy Owen as she turned away from the window in a sweeping motion as though her skirt alone propelled her across the floor. And, there it was, in that one understated sentence, an indictment of all that Lizzie Carswell had ever hoped to be and an acknowledgement that there was a story behind the seemingly innocent act they had all witnessed.
Mary wondered, at the time, if Betsy hadn't commented on it or hadn't commented on it in quite the way she did, if it wouldn't have just passed, subsided, receded, if you will, into a faint glancing moment, one of the things you see and then forget about, rather than something as piercing as a shard of glass that becomes forever imbedded in one's memory, so that every time any one of them would see Lizzie Carswell after that, they would remember that morning when they saw her coming out of the Gramercy Park Hotel.
A light rain was falling. Mary Nell felt the soft mist on her face, barely an antidote to the piercing hangover she had from the night before and Billy Holmes' party at the Waldorf that she'd stayed at much too long. She'd had to come in the back door and shut it softly, slip her heels off before she hit the tiled entranceway, and tiptoe up the stairs, so as not to wake anyone.Mama would have given her a lecture that she'd "gone wild" again. Papa would have waited until morning and sat her down over coffee and questioned whether she was chasing something that didn't exist, trying to fill a void, suggested that perhaps she should do something useful, not understanding, at all, that it was useful to sit up late at the Waldorf, to dance, to discuss Kant and whether Elizabeth Harkness' dress was too demure for the season. And, so, she'd had to continue the charade that she was well-rested and obedient, and get out of bed, even though she'd had barely four hours' sleep -- it was so hard to settle down after you'd been dancing -- her head feeling like damp cotton, and honor the obligation she'd made to go to Betsy Owen's house for a bridge party at eleven a.m. on Sunday.
There would be strong coffee with cream and tea sandwiches, no matter what time of day one visited Betsy Owen, she always served tea sandwiches (as if it was a fashion), and it would be as dull as dry toast. At least, that's what Mary thought, as she turned onto Gramercy Park and stood outside Betsy Owen's brownstone, for a moment, before going in.
There was a family walking out of the Gramercy Park Hotel wearing unseasonable pastels, the mother holding one of those pamphlets that pegged them instantly as tourists. Mary envied them. What it must be like to see New York with a sense of wonder, as an outsider. She remembered her mother taking her to see the Statue of Liberty when she was a little girl and the gift shop that was under the Statue's skirt. She remembered how small she thought the Statue was from the ferry and how big it seemed to her when she was inside the skirt. She still had, on her dresser, the tiny replica of the Statue of Liberty her mother had bought for her that day.
She did hope she would be able to convince her father to let her go to Europe in the spring. She wanted to be in Paris where everything didn't seem so insular, where it seemed it would be easier to write verse, where everyone, even the shopgirls, wore the newest fashions, and, if they didn't, it seemed as though they were creating one of their own, where there was no Prohibition, and the days and the nights seemed to flow into one another, instead of here, where the dark and furtive lure of the night was in direct contrast to the activities of the day.
She rang the bell and waited politely for Betsy to answer the door. Perhaps she could get Betsy to intercede for her with her parents. She could be so convincing. Betsy believed that life experience was worth everything. She wasn't like most of the women Mary knew, not the least bit like Mary's parents' friends. She had an occupation. Betsy was a writer, a celebrated woman of letters, in some circles, and, in others, given a less polite description. She wrote novels about New York with jaggedly exacting prose and minute, if sometimes, recognizable detail.
Betsy answered the door looking markedly older than she had the last time Mary had seen her, as if her age had caught up with her overnight, her gray hair tousled in ringlets like a cap on her head ...
Posted February 18, 2013
Posted December 12, 2011
¿¿She never did understand what it meant to be proper¿ said Betsy Owen as she turned away from the window in a sweeping motion as though her skirt alone propelled her across the floor. And, there it was, in that one understated sentence, an indictment of all that Lizzie Carswell had ever hoped to be and an acknowledgement that there was a story behind the seemingly innocent act they had all witnessed.¿
Perhaps if the story centered on answering numerous questions, rather than NYC gossip of four young women prior to going to Paris to continue speculation of Billy Holmes and Lizzie Carswell during the height of the Jazz Era in 1926, ONE SUNDAY MORNING may have been an enjoyable novel. But Amy Ephron tried too hard to marry Edith Wharton and Jay Gatsby. The end result was a horrid, but quick read. Mary got exactly what she deserved. Iris, so judgmental, behaved her character¿s polar opposite. And Betsy approved Geoffrey¿s behavior toward Mary and Lizzie, though she decreed that Lizzie doesn¿t understand what it meant to be proper.
We readers get a cheap patchwork of a couple of plotlines and characters who are not well defined. We are also left with many questions. Is Billy Holmes a drunk, drug addict and homosexual? Why would Clara marry him if he was any of three? What really happened that Saturday night prior to the ladies sight of Holmes and Lizzie coming out the Gramercy Park Hotel? Why take the story to Paris? Unfortunately Amy Ephron never answers these questions to this reader¿s satisfaction; she just ends the book with the same passage she opened the small novel.
Posted August 9, 2006
Posted June 24, 2005
I knew from the onset that this was a book about appearances being deceiving. I just wish it would have more a little more unpredictable. I found the character Mary Nell to be interesting, and so the story earns 3 stars on her sake. Otherwise, it would have only been 2.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 23, 2005
This lighter than air novel took me back to the 1920's, a era when scandal was dispensed in whispers rather then in screaming headlines in the tabloids. This slim, expertly crafted novel turned out to one of the best reads I've had in some timeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 27, 2005
Posted June 1, 2005
This book left my entire book club quite disappointed. The characters are severly underdeveloped, the metaphors obvious and the story came across as disjointed and flat. There was a lot of potential here, but even at the last word I was still waiting for that potential to be realized in any meaningful way. The story left too many questions unanswered, which was not so bad since none of the characters inspired enough concern for this reader to really care. For my first, and probably last, exposure to the writings of Amy Ephron, I have to say I had hoped for more and was completely disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 30, 2005
I loved 'A Cup of Tea,' so I had high expectations for 'One Sunday Morning.' Unfortunately, this new book is nowhere near the quality of 'A Cup of Tea.' While the prose is generally smooth and graceful, the content is lacking. The story is choppy and fragmented, with undeveloped characters, unresolved plot points, and an unsatisfying ending. Not worth the effort.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2011
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Posted October 27, 2008
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