The Three Weissmanns of Westport

The Three Weissmanns of Westport

2.9 155
by Cathleen Schine
     
 

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A New York Times Best Seller
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband's mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage

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Overview

A New York Times Best Seller
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband's mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine's playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, the impulsive sister is Miranda, a literary agent entangled in a series of scandals, and the more pragmatic sister is Annie, a library director, who feels compelled to move in and watch over her capricious mother and sister. Schine's witty, wonderful novel "is simply full of pleasure: the pleasure of reading, the pleasure of Austen, and the pleasure that the characters so rightly and humorously pursue….An absolute triumph" (The Cleveland Plain Dealer).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Schine's homage to Jane Austen has it all....A sparkling, crisp, clever, deft, hilarious, and deeply affecting new novel, her best yet . . . Schine is clearly a writer who loves to read as much as she loves to write. And it is great fun to play English major with her.” —Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review

“Schine has been favored in so many ways by the muse of comedy . . . The Three Weissmanns of Westport is full of invention, wit, and wisdom that can bear comparison to Austen's own.” —The New York Review of Books

“A success…Sharp-edged satire.” —Marion Winik, The Miami Herald

“A clever, frothy novel…Schine playfully probes the lies, self-deceptions, and honorable hearts of her characters.” —The New Yorker

“Schine sets the Austen machinery in perfect forward motion, and then works some lovely modern changes, keeping the pace going at a lively clip . . . Spotting the similarities and differences between the early 19th century and early 21st century stories is good sport, but the greater pleasure comes from Schine's own clever girls and their awkward attempts to find happiness.” —The Boston Globe

“There is so much zest for life in this novel that you can only imagine how much fun Cathleen Schine had writing it.” —Carol Memmott, USA Today

“Absolutely wonderful. You'll turn each page with anticipation, all the while wishing you could read it slowly in order to savor the deliciousness of Schine's particular sensibility….It will warm the center of your heart.” —Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

“Swap genteel nineteenth-century England for upscale contemporary Connecticut, add two sisters--one impulsive, one practical--and stir with lively doses of romance, domestic discord, sudden setbacks, and sublime surprises, and you get Cathleen Schine's homage to Jane Austen.” —Elle

“No Cathleen Schine book is without wit and sharply observed moments.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A geriatric stepfather falls in love with a scheming woman half his age in Schine's Sense and Sensibility–flecked and compulsively readable follow-up to The New Yorkers. Betty Weissman is 75 when Joseph, her husband of nearly 50 years, announces he's divorcing her. Soon, Betty moves out of their grand Central Park West apartment and Joseph's conniving girlfriend, Felicity, moves in. Betty lands in a rundown Westport, Conn., beach cottage, but things quickly get more complicated when Betty's daughters run into their own problems. Literary agent Miranda is sued into bankruptcy after it's revealed that some of her authors made up their lurid memoirs, and Annie, drowning in debt, can no longer afford her apartment. Once they relocate to Westport, both girls fall in love--Annie rather awkwardly with the brother of her stepfather's paramour, and Miranda with a younger actor who has a young son. An Austen-esque mischief hovers over these romantic relationships as the three women figure out how to survive and thrive. It's a smart crowd pleaser with lovably flawed leads and the best tearjerker finale you're likely to read this year.” —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
A geriatric stepfather falls in love with a scheming woman half his age in Schine's Sense and Sensibility–flecked and compulsively readable follow-up to The New Yorkers. Betty Weissman is 75 when Joseph, her husband of nearly 50 years, announces he's divorcing her. Soon, Betty moves out of their grand Central Park West apartment and Joseph's conniving girlfriend, Felicity, moves in. Betty lands in a rundown Westport, Conn., beach cottage, but things quickly get more complicated when Betty's daughters run into their own problems. Literary agent Miranda is sued into bankruptcy after it's revealed that some of her authors made up their lurid memoirs, and Annie, drowning in debt, can no longer afford her apartment. Once they relocate to Westport, both girls fall in love—Annie rather awkwardly with the brother of her stepfather's paramour, and Miranda with a younger actor who has a young son. An Austen-esque mischief hovers over these romantic relationships as the three women figure out how to survive and thrive. It's a smart crowd pleaser with lovably flawed leads and the best tearjerker finale you're likely to read this year. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Drawing on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Schine (The New Yorkers) has written a witty update in which a late-life divorce exiles Betty Weissmann and her adult daughters, Annie and Miranda, from a luxurious life in New York to a shabby beach cottage in Westport, CT. Annie is the serious daughter and Miranda the drama queen. Both women find unexpected love, while Betty, a sweet, frivolous spendthrift, struggles with her newly impoverished state. What comfort the Weissmanns enjoy is owing to the generosity of Cousin Lou, a Holocaust survivor and real-estate mogul, whose goal in life is to rescue everyone, whether or not rescue is needed. While beautifully preserving the essence of the plot, Schine skillfully manages to parallel the original novel in clever 21st-century ways—the trip to London becomes a holiday in Palm Springs; the scoundrel Willoughby becomes a wannabe actor. VERDICT Austen lovers and those who enjoyed updates like Paula Marantz Cohen's Jane Austen in Boca and Jane Austen in Scarsdale should appreciate this novel. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.]—Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Kirkus Reviews
Already recognized for her own witty romantic comedies of manners, Schine (The New Yorkers, 2008, etc.) joins the onslaught of Austen imitators. Upper-middle-class, mostly Jewish New Yorkers take the place of British gentry in this Sense and Sensibility riff. After 48 years of marriage, 78-year-old Joseph Weissman leaves his 75-year-old wife Betty for Felicity Barrow, a younger woman with whom he works. Although Josie (as his stepdaughters call him) repeatedly swears he wants to be generous to Betty, Felicity manipulates him into closing Betty's credit-card accounts and forcing her out of the Weissmans' Upper West Side apartment she herself paid for decades ago. Fortunately, kindly Cousin Lou lends Betty his abandoned cottage in Westport, Conn., and Betty's daughters, outraged on their mother's behalf although they don't stop loving Josie, move in with her. Romantic, never married but often in love, 49-year-old Miranda is in dire financial straits herself, as scandals concerning the memoirists she represents threaten to bankrupt her literary agency. Sensible Annie, briefly married and long divorced, has successfully raised two sons while working at a privately endowed library. Now living in stoic loneliness, she has begun to fall in love with famous author Frederick Barrow, who happens to be Felicity's brother and whose grown offspring jealously guard his affections. In Westport, Annie is hurt when Frederick practically ignores her at a gathering at Cousin Lou's. Meanwhile, Miranda has an affair with the handsome young actor next door and falls seriously in love with his two-year-old son. Feisty Betty begins to refer to herself as a widow. In true Austen fashion, love and money conquerall, although Schine adds some modern sorrow and a slightly off-putting disdain for her male characters, who range from narcissistically foolish to, in what passes for the romantic hero, pragmatic and unoffending. Infectious fun, but the tweaked version never quite lives up to the original.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312680527
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
02/01/2011
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
464,105
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

     When Joseph Weissmann divorced his wife, he was seventy-eight years old and she was seventy-five. He announced his decision in the kitchen of their apartment on the tenth floor of a large, graceful Central Park West building built at the turn of the last century, the original white tiles of the kitchen still gleaming on the walls around them. Joseph, known as Joe to his colleagues at work but always called Joseph by his wife, said the words “irreconcilable differences,” and saw real confusion in his wife’s eyes.

     Irreconcilable differences? she said. Of course there are irreconcilable differences. What on earth does that have to do with divorce?

     In Joe’s case it had very little to do with divorce. In Joe’s case, as is so often the case, the reason for the divorce was a woman. But a woman was not, unsurprisingly, the reason he gave his wife.

     Irreconcilable differences?

     Betty was surprised. They had been married for forty-eight years. She was used to Joseph, and she was sure Joseph was used to her. But he would not be dissuaded. Their history was history to him.

     Joseph had once been a handsome man. Even now, he was straight, unstooped; his bald head was somehow distinguished rather than lacking, as if men, important men, aspired to a smooth shining pate. His nose was narrow and protruded importantly. His eyes were also narrow and, as he aged, increasingly protected by folds of skin, as if they were secrets.Women liked him. Betty had certainly liked him, once. He was quiet and unobtrusive, requiring only a large breakfast before he went to work, a large glass of Scotch when he arrived home, and a small, light dinner at 7:30 sharp.

     Over the years, Betty began to forget that she liked Joseph. The large breakfast seemed grotesque, the drink obsessive, the light supper an affectation. This happened in their third decade together and lasted until their fourth. Then, Betty noticed, Joseph’s routines somehow began to take on a comforting rhythm, like the heartbeat of a mother to a newborn baby. Betty was once again content, in love, even. They traveled to Tuscany and stood in the Chianti hills watching the swallows and the swift clouds of slate-gray rain approaching. They took a boat through the fjords of Norway and another through the Galápagos Islands. They took a train through India from one palace to the next, imagining the vanished Raj and eating fragrant delicate curries. They did all these things together. And then, all these things stopped.

     “Irreconcilable differences,” Joe said.

     “Oh, Joseph. What does that have to do with divorce?”

     “I want to be generous,” Joe said.

     Generous? she thought. It was as if she were the maid and she was being fired. Would he offer her two months’ salary?

     “You cannot be generous with what is mine,” she said.

     And the divorce, like horses in a muddy race, their sides frothing, was off and running.

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Meet the Author

Cathleen Schine is the author of The New Yorkers and The Love Letter, among other novels. She has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York, and Venice, California
Date of Birth:
1953
Place of Birth:
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Education:
B.A., Barnard College, 1976
Website:
http://www.cathleenschine.com/

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The Three Weissmanns of Westport 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 155 reviews.
Art-historian More than 1 year ago
I like Schine's writing and wanted to read this so much that I mistakenly bought it twice! Once turned out to be enough -- I never found the characters to be convincing enough for me to really care about them or believe that they were connected in any way beyond the plot contrivances. It absorbed me more at the beginning and at the ending, but the middle was a long lull at the beach.
BobbiNJ More than 1 year ago
This was the first of Cathleen Schine's books that I've read but I enjoyed it enough that I've purchased a few others of hers. The book takes place in CT and NY, both very familiar places to me. The character types are also familiar but because of that, I enjoyed it even more. Sharply drawn characters and detailed depiction of different types of women who all depend on each other. Loved her unique writing style. It struck me as a bit old-fashioned but because the book discussed very current themes, it made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
happyreaderKK More than 1 year ago
This book was made out to be much better than it actually was. It was not very real and I was tired about hearing about all of the rejection from men. Life is more about life than men and who cares if they reject you. There is so much more about life than evolving yourself around men. I wished I would not have wasted my time!!
MargeScope More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly enjoybale read that pulled me into the lives and travails of the characters instantly. Those quirky, charming, colorful and memorable characters. You care about them becasue they are so human and offbeat. I found that it was too short a story and would have loved to be with them a little longer. Perhaps the saga of the Weissmann women could go on and all the intersecting characters and subplots could as well. With flashbacks, of course. i have already recommended it to friends. And because I enjoyed it so much, I have become interested in reading more of author Cathleen Schine's work with which I was not familiar. I became interested enough to order this book after reading a review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I simply could not get into this book and only read about half of it. The plot idea was so intriguing, and I was really excited about reading it. I even went to the store to pick it up right away because I couldn't wait for shipping. Very disappointed with the characters. They were so silly and self-centered. Perhaps someday I will pick it up again, but cannot think of a good reason why when there are so many good books out there to read.
Cathleen Schine More than 1 year ago
loved the characters and was contantly surprised by the plot despite the Austin homage. A lovely intelligent novel about family relationships and the stages of romantic love.
baxter1946 More than 1 year ago
This is the wordiest book! This book is for people who delight in other people's suffering. It was very overwhelming in that so many things happened to the characters. Sometimes there was a smile, but most times it was a furrowed brow.
KrisPA More than 1 year ago
I absolutely hated this book. HATED. I kept hearing so many good things about it (reviews, not word of mouth) so when the library got a copy in, I decided to give it a shot. I hated it fairly early on. I forgot that it was based on Sense & Sensibility, one of my favorite Jane Austen novels, so when I recognized this fact (pretty early on--you are pretty much beat over the head with it plot/character similarities) I was annoyed. It was just so irritating to have this author subvert a gloriously written classic novel into her boring prose and annoying characters. Schine didn't just base this novel on S&S, she pretty much followed it to the extent that it was distracting--I began anticipating the plot and renaming the characters in my head (oh, yeah, this is so and so from S&S). While I love Jane Austen's characters, despite and because of their flaws, I found Schine's characters simply ineffectual, stupid, and annoying. I found absolutely nothing humorous in the book, and couldn't relate to the wealthy NYC Jewish-ness of the characters. I began skimming about 3/4 of the way thru because I found it too irritating to read every sentence. I didn't care about the ending and how anyone ended up. Awful, awful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading a number of wonderful reviews of this book, I could not wait to buy and read it. I even recommended it to my book group. Instead of a nuanced, classic read, I found this book to be flat and the characters, for the most part, uninteresting. I found that I mostly did not care about what happened to any of them in the end. My advice for would-be readers is to stick with Sense and Sensibility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Angst going through middle life change and expecting true love with a 75 year old mother going through a divorce where she doesnt have enough sense to get a lawyer is too much at no time does anyonee seem to id his mistress or care though adultery would be her cause why wouldnt the daughters get a lawyer right away and make husband leave why would daughter let her mother have credit card to buy chanel and on and on these women are unbelieveable stupid why would anyone refuse an appliance well drafty house bad weather poor nutrition did her in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I was going to like it at first but fell in love with the writing. Would really like a sequel to see how things turn out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book took place in connecticut where i live. it was also the first book that i read on my nook. put all these things together and you come up with a great story that can be related to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoying the book.
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Babette-dYveine More than 1 year ago
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. I only finished it because once I start a book I'm compelled to read it to the end. It is almost 300 pages of the characters' constant complaining -- "kvetching," I believe it is called. The plot is totally contrived, with the same characters popping up everywhere. If I could give it no stars, I would. Jane Austen? Cathleen Schine can't tie Jane Austen's shoelaces!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this story. The characters are endearing and a joy to read about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not meant to rival Jane Austen. Sense & Sensibility is only an inspiration. Read it instead for the humor and truth of the overarching situations of the mother's & sisters' lives & loves. I was genuinely charmed. This is Shine's best novel. Her others are only fair; this one is excellent -- more than a beach read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was mildly entertaining quick read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only finished because it was our book club read. Terrible characters, stupid story. Don't waste your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hfaerie More than 1 year ago
I really loved the shadow of "Sense and Sensibility" in the storyline of the book. Since S and S is my fav of the Austen books it was fun to anticipate how the story would turn to follow the original story line. It is certainly not the same story -but similar nonetheless. Fast easy read.