Excerpt from A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Certain Age

A Novel

by Beatriz Williams

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams X
A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 384 pages

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Print Excerpt

The New York Herald-Times, May 29, 1922

TIT AND TATTLE, BY PATTY CAKE
At last! It's the day we've all been waiting for, dear readers: the opening of the latest and greatest Trial of the Century, and I don't mind telling you it's as hot as blazes inside this undersized Connecticut courtroom. You're much better off reading about it from the comfort of your own armchair, believe me. Oh, the suffering I endure on the sacred altar of journalism.

And now, after all these months of fuss and hysteria and delectable details—the Patent King, his beautiful heiress daughters, the downstairs tenant, the kitchen-maid-cum-tearful-Scarsdale-housewife and her munificent husband, the turret window, the missing gardener, the exact length and serration of the blade used to murder the victim—here we all sit, waving our makeshift fans before our perspiring faces, and it turns out these mythical figures are human after all! The Patent King is smaller than you'd think. He doesn't say a word, sitting stiff as a wire by the side of the defense counsel, and the daughters huddle next to each other in the front row, so pale and haggard that their much-ballyhooed beauty is, I'm afraid, purely conjecture.

A number of well-known society figures populate the benches around me. Chief among them is that perennial mainstay of the social calendar—and this column, naturally—the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, as exquisitely dressed (and as exquisitely fashioned) as ever. I've had the privilege of visiting Windermere, the Marshall family estate down there by the shore, and I admire Mrs. Marshall's fortitude in enduring this untoward inferno when she might be reclining among the dunes, or riding her famous jumper, Tiptoe, around the ring at Lake Agawam.

The reason for Mrs. Marshall's sacrifice is quite clear, however. He sits by her side, and he's a fine specimen of manhood, as judged by the expert eye of yours truly. Mr. Octavian Rofrano will soon figure as one of the key witnesses in this case, and given his newfound fame and undoubted allurements, I don't blame Mrs. Marshall in the least for her vigilant oversight of his person, though I can't help wondering what poor old Mr. Marshall thinks of all this protectiveness.

So much for the man on Mrs. Marshall's left side. To her right sits another well-known Manhattan Thoroughbred: none other than the lady's brother, Mr. Edmund Jay Ochsner, famed bachelor-about-town and not so far past his considerable prime to lay claim—so rumor has it, anyway—to the lesser of the two Patent Princesses. As to whether rumor has their engagement right, neither principal is talking, and I certainly don't see a ring glittering on the telltale finger. So, as always, I'll let you decide the truth for yourselves, dear ones.

As for me? Hold on to your hats. I've got the Trial of the Century to watch, if I don't melt away into the benches by the end of the morning.



CHAPTER 1

In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar—a practice which is still continued.

—HELEN ROWLAND

THERESA
Long Island, New York, on the second day of 1922


During the night, I dream that my husband arrives unexpectedly from Manhattan, in a plume of sultry exhaust from the engine of his Buick Battistini speedster, and let me tell you, the intrusion is most unwelcome. To be sure, outside of feverish dreams, the possibility's remote. I have no doubt that, at the instant my dream-husband's wheels disturb the dream-gravel outside, the genuine Mr. Marshall lies in cetacean slumber on the bed of that jewel-box apartment on Sutton Place he's bought for his mistress, this being the second night of the New Year and one conveniently placed on the calendar for adulterous pursuits. In any case, he's not the sort of man to storm down a frozen highway at dawn. Mr. Marshall's manners are impeccable.

Excerpted from A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams. Copyright © 2016 by Beatriz Williams. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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