Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Jane Austen in Boca
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Jane Austen in Boca

4.8 7
by Paula Marantz Cohen

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a nice Jewish widower must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen centered her classic novels around "three or four families in a country village." So does Paula Marantz Cohen in this witty twist on Pride and Prejudice---except this time the "village" is Boca Raton, Florida.
Eligible men are scarce in Boca. When


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a nice Jewish widower must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen centered her classic novels around "three or four families in a country village." So does Paula Marantz Cohen in this witty twist on Pride and Prejudice---except this time the "village" is Boca Raton, Florida.
Eligible men are scarce in Boca. When good-hearted meddler Carol Newman learns that the wealthy and personable Norman Grafstein has lost his wife, she resolves to marry him off to her lonely mother-in-law, May. Even May's sharp-tongued friend Flo approves of Norman---although Norman's best friend Stan, a cynical professor, keeps getting under Flo's skin.
Will May and Norman eventually find happiness? Will Flo succumb to the charms of the suavely cosmopolitan Mel Shirmer? Misunderstandings abound until love conquers both pride and prejudice in this perceptive, engaging comedy of manners.

Complications and misunderstandings abound in this romantic and perceptive comedy of manners.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Utterly charming...think Pride and Prejudice, but with better weather.” —Vanity Fair

“Page-turner of the week.... In this witty romp, widowed Jewish women and their extended kin fill in for the country families in Pride and Prejudice.... What's not to like?” —People

“Clever, warm-hearted...Cohen's wit is sharp, smart, and satirical, and her characterizations are vividly on target.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“I can't imagine a more perfect afternoon than sitting by a pool reading Jane Austen in Boca...Whether you're from Boca, Brooklyn, or Beverly Hills, be sure to make time to read this very funny book.” —Joan Rivers

Publishers Weekly
The Bennett daughters are recast as elderly Jewish widows in this amusing, kvetchy take on Pride and Prejudice. May Newman, a sweet, gentle woman in her 70s, is happily settled at the Boca Festa retirement community in Boca Raton, Fla., where she enjoys the companionship of her best friends, Lila Katz, a pragmatic redhead in search of a well-to-do husband, and Flo Kliman, a sharp-tongued retired librarian. May's pleasant daily routine is disrupted when her matchmaking New Jersey daughter-in-law visits and introduces May to recently widowed Norman Grafstein, a particularly eligible senior. Despite herself, May finds she enjoys Norman's company, but Flo takes an instant dislike to Norman's best friend, cranky English professor emeritus Stan Jacobs. The plot unfolds in ways predictable to those familiar with Pride and Prejudice (or any of its many adaptations), enhanced by Cohen's near-sociological scrutiny of life in Boca Raton. Cohen (whose mother-in-law lives in Boca) has a sharp eye for details like its residents' favorite colors (pink, turquoise and gold), preferred shopping destination (Loehmann's) and favorite movie (Schindler's List). The Austen parallels are cleverly drawn and culminate in a class on Pride and Prejudice offered by Stan, who discovers that the Boca Festa women identify with the meddling Mrs. Bennett rather than heroine Elizabeth. The humor may be of the Borscht Belt variety ("she would find May Newman a husband or plotz"), but it will be thoroughly appreciated by the snowbird set. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A clever update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this first novel is set in a Jewish retirement community in Boca Raton, FL. Carol Newman is obsessively seeking a mate for her widowed mother-in-law, May. When Carol decides that the recently bereaved and very wealthy Norman Grafstein is the ideal candidate, the resulting comedy of manners is worthy of Austen herself. The author's perceptive observations of life among the retirees of Florida are combined with skillful parallels to the plot and characters of the original novel. The narrative flows, and the reader will be chuckling, trying to guess who from Boca is a character from Austen. Particularly delightful is Flo Kliman, the contemporary Elizabeth Bennett character, a retired librarian from the University of Chicago with a keen intellect and acerbic wit. Although certain aspects of the plot seem contrived, this fiction debut by humanities professor Cohen, who has written scholarly studies such as Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth, will amuse readers everywhere. Recommended for public libraries, especially those with significant Jewish communities.-Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The title says it all. Cohen, a humanities professor and author of several books of scholarly nonfiction, offers a kosher teacake of a first novel loosely fashioned after Pride and Prejudice and elucidating the social mores of genteel Jewish retirees in Boca Raton.

Cohen’s Boca are the condominium complexes full of retirees primarily from the Northeast. Best friends May Newman, Flo Kliman, and Lila Katz are widows in their 70s living quietly in Boca Festa, a typical Boca complex, not as shabby as some nor as grand as the most exclusive. Then Carol Newman, a contemporary suburban yenta cum Emma, sets up her placid, passive mother-in-law May with Norman Grafstein, a wealthy retiree, while financially strapped Lila encourages the attentions she receives from the crudely foolish but relatively well-off Hy Marcus. That leaves Flo, a former librarian at the University of Chicago, who claims to be uninterested in romance. Sophisticated, acerbic Flo is soon sparring with Norman’s friend Stan Jacobs, the recently widowed, somewhat dour English professor at the local university who is too overtly critical of the Boca lifestyle for Flo’s taste, though she’s not above mocking the foibles of her fellow residents herself. Enter Mel Shirmer, a divorced former journalist, too charming by half, who woos Flo while he considers buying a condo. The transparent plot, a follow-the-numbers exercise in Austen-copying, concerns the ups and downs of the widows’ romances. To say all ends happily gives nothing away. The story works best as social commentary—who knew, for instance, that Jews of a certain generation were Anglophiles who chose British last names like Howard and Irving as first names for their sons?The British and New Jersey accents here sometimes collide, but the Boca community is certainly Austenian in its rituals, rules of etiquette, and daily rites, such as shopping (Loehmann’s), home decorating (lots of turquoise), and entertaining (lots of food).

A silly trifle but clever and fun.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author

Paula Marantz Cohen is Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, and her in-laws live in Boca Raton, Florida. Her previous non-fiction books include Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth and The Daughter as Reader: Encounters Between Literature and Life. Jane Austen in Boca is her first novel.

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