At seventy-five years old, Betty Weissmann was taken totally by surprise when her husband, Joseph, decided he wanted a divorce. If her cousin hadn't offered his vacant cottage in Westport, Betty would have had nowhere to go. Joseph had frozen her assets, and she couldn't have managed to keep her beloved apartment on Central Park West.
To help their mother adjust to her new life, Miranda and Annie--both single and middle-aged--each sublets her apartment and moves to the cottage. While settling into Westport, Miranda, a true romantic, meets the handsome, rakish man next door. Meanwhile, Annie, always the practical one, has started seeing a reserved but nice author, who just happens to be the brother of the much younger woman Joseph fancies himself in love with.
If any of this sounds vaguely familiar, that's because Cathleen Schine's newest novel, The Three Weissmanns of Westport (just out in paperback) is a modern-day take-off of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. The novel begins with the basic premise of S&S, modernizes it, adds a few new twists, and keeps enough of the classic story to make it a fun choice for Austen fans.
If you haven't read the original or seen one of the Sense and Sensibility movies, not to worry. The Three Weismmann's of Westport can be read as women's fiction and will stand on its own. On the other hand, those familiar with Austen's characters and plot will enjoy anticipating events and comparing the Weissmanns to the Dashwoods.
The novel would make a good book club choice, generating discussion about mothers and daughters, relationships, marriage, and just how far (or not) women have come since Austen's day. A Reading Group Gold page is available from the publisher, which includes discussion questions.
For more on Cathleen Schine, be sure to visit her blog. To read an excerpt, listen to some interviews, and see Schine's tour schedule, visit the publisher's website.
Come back tomorrow to learn about another Austen-related book. Later in the week, I'll be hosting a giveaway for both books. Yep, one lucky reader will win two Austen-inspired books.
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Published by Macmillian / Picador, 2011 (paperback)
Source: Review (see review policy)
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