Only Oona

Only Oona

by Tamatha Cain
Only Oona

Only Oona

by Tamatha Cain



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Eugene O'Neill's only daughter.

Café Society's only shining star.

Charlie Chaplin's only true love.

Abandoned by her father as a young child and left to her own devices as a teenager in Manhattan, Oona O'Neill made her own luck. Days spent at an Upper East Side all-girls school were followed by nights on the town with friends Gloria Vanderbilt, Carol Marcus, and Truman Capote. She became an inspiration for Capote's character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's and boyfriend J.D. Salinger's Sally Hayes in Catcher in the Rye.

Beyond her famous parents, wealthy friends, and stories in the society pages was a brilliant and savvy young woman determined to make something of herself on her own terms. From Bermuda to Florida, New Jersey to Manhattan, and Hollywood to Switzerland, experience the singular life and fascinating times of the enigmatic young woman who would become Lady Oona O'Neill Chaplin.

"There have been so many books about my father Charlie Chaplin. My mother deserves her story to be told. And what better way than through this, Tamatha Cain's book!"
--Jane Chaplin, filmmaker, Daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill Chaplin

"Tamatha Cain is a born novelist and is having a lot of fun with her mythic subject, Oona O’Neill Chaplin, in Only Oona. Lucky reader!"

-Aram Saroyan, American poet, novelist, and playwright

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781949935592
Publisher: Orange Blossom Publishing
Publication date: 01/03/2023
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 735,760
File size: 801 KB

About the Author

Tamatha Cain is a former musician and bandleader. She graduated with honors from the University of North Florida with a concentration in Writing for the Entertainment Industry, and her work has appeared in national and international publications. Winner of the 2020 Royal Palm Literary Award for unpublished fiction and first place in The Experience Poetry Competition, she also writes reviews for Southern Literary Review. She is a member of WFWA and FWA. She is a wife and mother of three and lives in a hundred-year-old bungalow in North Florida, in close proximity to the historic locations found in her debut novel Song of the Chimney Sweep.

Read an Excerpt

They were spending entirely too much time at Hamburg Heaven. The place truly smelled like heaven, if heaven had a grill and fryer. While they waited for their food, they blotted their red lipstick in preparation for the wonderful greasiness ahead.

“This is better than a hand up my shirt.” Carol said through an unladylike mouthful of hamburger. She swallowed. “Or up my skirt.”

“What does that say about the choices youve been making?” Oona said, pointing a hot French fry at Carol and then dipping it in her milkshake.

She pointed at the red logo on her plate and read it out loud: “‘Only the Best Steers May Enter.’”

“Ooh…that’s terrible!” Oona said, swallowing the fry. Her eyebrows drew together. “True though.”

They ate in silence, relishing every bite, then Carol got out her giant compact.

“Truman thinks you are absolutely divine,” Carol said, wiping a drop of ketchup from her chin.

“He’s a doll, and I rather love him, too,” Oona said. “Where is he tonight?”

“Who knows? That boy somehow always finds the fun.”

“Maybe he brings the fun,” Oona said. She dabbed her fingers on a napkin and picked up another fry.

Truman Capote was an enigmatic type of friend. He made her feel both free and cautious at the same time. It was probably all the questions about Daddy. It wasn’t his fault. It was never any of her friends’ faults. They asked questions any girl with a father should be able to answer, even if Truman’s questions did go beyond the normal getting-to-know-you kind.

When she’d attended Warrenton School, the school before Brearley, her best friends had been a pair of sisters, daughters of one of her mother’s writer friends, a fellow divorcé. It seemed so long ago already! The mother and daughters spent part of the summer as Agnes’s guests in Bermuda, and Mother got an earful about how unimpressive Warrenton School was. The girls were learning to speak French entirely wrong, plus the students were expected to serve as hostesses for the school’s big annual hunting event, which meant they couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving. The mother planned to transfer her girls to Brearley in Manhattan, so Agnes followed suit. And now here Oona was, sitting at Hamburg Heaven with Carol Marcus. Carol socialized with society people. Gloria Vanderbilt, the girl whose face was in the papers practically every other week, was just another one of Carol’s friends. Life was so funny sometimes, how it wound around itself and dropped you places you never knew existed, at least not for girls like her.

Sometimes, in her mind, she was still on a boat in the middle of the pond, at Warrenton. She and those girls had rowed out on an early autumn day and let the boat drift around, as they took turns reading passages from plays to each other. And then, of course, the topic turned to Oona’s playwright father. 

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