31 January 2011

Review: The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

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.

Published by Macmillian / Picador, 2011 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780312680527
YTD: 13
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Molly 1/31/11, 6:45 AM  

This has been on my radar for quite some time. I am excited to hear what other Austen inspired book you have read, and I will certainly be interested in entering the give away :)

Sandy Nawrot 1/31/11, 7:14 AM  

Also kind of reminds me of Elin Hildenbrand's "The Island" too.

Julie P. 1/31/11, 7:58 AM  

Hmmmm. I might enjoy this one! I wasn't even really on my radar!

Jenn's Bookshelves 1/31/11, 8:53 AM  

So glad you enjoyed this one! It's coming up in my review pile!

Martha@Hey, I want to read that 1/31/11, 11:49 AM  

Now I want it even more. I love Jane Austen and Love Sense and Sensibility. This one sounds great. I'll be keeping an eye out for the giveaway.

Zibilee 1/31/11, 11:50 AM  

I read another great review of this book yesterday, and have to admit that I was very intrigued by it. I had no idea that it was a reworking of Sense and Sensibility, but now that I hear that, I am even more excited about it! Great review, Beth, and I am glad to hear that you liked it so much!

Vasilly 1/31/11, 12:21 PM  

I haven't read anything by Schine before though I do own a copy of The Letter. I love how you bring to my attention books I've never heard of.

Anonymous,  1/31/11, 2:15 PM  

I really need to read this because I love, love, love SENSE & SENSIBILITY. Movie and book.

Tribute Books 1/31/11, 5:09 PM  

I never heard of this "Sense & Sensibility" rendition - thanks for sharing. Although, I think I liked "Mr. Dashwood" better deceased than cheating on his wife!

Dorte H 1/31/11, 5:10 PM  

What a great title :D

Booksnyc 1/31/11, 8:43 PM  

This has been on my wishlist since it was out in hardcover. It's the first time I have heard someone make the connection to Sense and Sensibility - thanks for the review!

Nise' 1/31/11, 9:46 PM  

The Sense & Sensibility angle is what drew me to the book. I enjoyed it and agree it would be a great book club selection.

Beth Hoffman 2/1/11, 9:14 AM  

I've been wondering if I would enjoy this book, but your review convinced me to add the title to my list. Thanks!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 2/1/11, 10:37 AM  

I haven't really read any reviews of this one because it's one I plan to read eventually, but it is interesting to note that it is a take on S&S.

Rebecca Rasmussen 2/1/11, 10:43 AM  

I'm always afraid to compare a book to Austen on some levels because I always end up like the original --S+S in this case-- more. But I think I'm approaching it the wrong way :)

Janel 2/3/11, 2:16 PM  

Nice review! I picked up a paperback copy of this book from a giveaway shelf at work. The location (Westport CT) drew me to the book. But after reading your review, I'm pleasantly surprised to see there is an Austen connection as well.

Jennifer 2/6/11, 11:42 AM  

This sounds like a really good read and a great book club pick. I'm still trying to get one together but college students don't really seem to have the time to really devote to a book club. Bummer. Still, just because I have no book club doesn't mean I won't pick this book up. It sounds like a nice read.

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