A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917, by Amy Ephron

A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917, by Amy Ephron

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Ephron's tragic little novel is an elaboration of the Katherine Mansfield short story of the same title.

The setting is New York during the first year of U.S. involvement in World War I. Rosemary Fell is a pampered and protected young lady, engaged to marry the ever-so-suitable Philip Alsop. One day, Rosemary comes upon a young woman who has obviously fallen on hard times. Out of a sense of noblesse oblige, Rosemary invites this person--Eleanor Smith--home for a cup of tea. Philip happens to drop by, and a shared glance between him and Eleanor sparks what later flames into an affair.

Philip enlists, and his orders to embark for overseas mean that his marriage to Rosemary has to be moved up, but his departure for Europe leaves behind a pregnant Eleanor. Despite being thought killed in battlefield skirmishes, Philip returns home to New York, but no happy ending is to be had.

Compelling in its tightness but never lacking proper development, this is a sterling novel. - Booklist.