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Martha's Vineyard Times is a weekly publication.
July 14 - July 20, 2005 Edition
- Email Submissions
July 14, 2005
is no new In Print story this week.
Charming novel brings summer respite
July 7, 2005
One Sunday Morning, Amy Ephron, New York, HarperCollins
Publishers, 2005. $21.95. 213 pgs.
One Sunday Morning is a book you should read on the verandah
(not the deck), wearing a floppy sun hat instead of your Red Sox cap,
and sipping lemonade, maybe a white wine spritzer, but certainly not
a Corona. On the other hand, according to author Amy Ephron, some
fans report that they read it during an airport wait, in traffic,
at lunch in the office. No matter where you read it, One Sunday
Morning will create that lemonade-on-the-verandah mood, and
for that alone it is a boon and blessing during these hectic days
Ms. Ephron herself has her own thoughts about where to read her slim,
213-page gem. I think of it as a nice book to curl up with on
a couch on an afternoon, she confided in a phone interview from
her Los Angeles home Sunday evening.
Amy Ephron is sweet-voiced, slightly breathless. She was just in from
grappling with daisies in her new cactus and succulent garden, just
settling in with her new lawyer husband whom she married in the midst
of her whirlwind cross-country book tour. A divorced single mom for
the past decade, newly remarried, a brand new book out and another
five to her credit, no wonder Amy Ephron sounds breathless.
But her writing is anything but. Her prose reads like it was written
in a gazebo, a cool breeze blowing. Or at least in a quiet office
with a bunch of daisies on the desk and Mozart playing. Is she one
of these disciplined writers with orderly days who work religiously
from 6 am until noon, then stop for lunch and a walk? Hardly.
During her 20 years of novel writing Amy has worked as a film executive,
written screen plays, and raised three children. Not exactly a serene
You write in the car, you write in your head, you write at dinner,
Maybe it is because of the Five Corners traffic, too-much-to-do hubbub
of our Vineyard summer, or the suddenly universal yearning for streamlining
and simplicity, but this little book is the perfect antidote, like
a cool drink of well yes, lemonade. It is not that it is short
(although it is). It is more that it is spare, that the sentences
are unencumbered, not stark but clean, fit, carefully honed. The book
itself, the size, the supple stock, the soft, just-off-focus cover
photo of a woman in a flowered straw hat and soft satin, the delicate
print not too many words on a page, plenty of air around them
expresses serenity, evokes a sigh of relief.
Deceptively simple is an understatement. At first glance one might
think the writer could toss off such a book in a few weeks. But look
closer, and you will discover how each phrase is carefully turned,
each word mindfully chosen. Ms. Ephron, who loves history, good literature,
and words, says she has the unusual writing habit of working on only
a few pages at a time, fine tuning them until they are truly finished.
She spends about three years on a novel.
Ms. Ephron sets her characters loose in the heady settings of 1920s
New York City and Paris. She introduces us to a group of friends.
There is Mary Nell, the prim but curious observer of life; the genteel
older friend Betsy Owen; Geoffrey Rice, her dashing nephew, jaded
from his world travels with issues only hinted at. Clara and Billy
are engaged. Iris, less glamorous then her friends, quietly hopes
to find Mr. Right.
And then there is Lizzie Carswell think Scarlet OHara.
She never did understand what it meant to be proper, intones
Betsy Owen when the ladies meet for tea.
We know them at once, but do we? As in any situation where manners
come first, emotions and secrets are not far beneath.
Ms. Ephron is fascinated by the impact of single moments in time.
There are moments that can change a persons life, a chance
encounter, something someone tells you, she says. Her tale,
she says, spins itself out from just such a moment.
Ms. Ephron said a friend compared her book to a box of chocolates.
It is, for it is quite impossible to read just one chapter without
having to read just one more another truffle? A cherry cordial?
It goes much too fast.
Though the author ties the story up with a neat symmetry at the end,
questions remain. Whatever will become of these young socialites with
their whims and dreams and quirks?
I find now that I miss them. I have no one to sit on the verandah
with, no perfect-seeming people whose secrets I can speculate about
as we sip lemonade and make gracious conversation. Perhaps Amy Ephron
will bring them back; if not, we can only hope she will introduce
us to another batch soon.
Amy Ephron will be at the Bunch of Grapes, Main St., Vineyard Haven,
on Wednesday, July 13, 7:30 pm. 508-693-2291.
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