Synopses & Reviews
Anne Ehrlich is a dedicated guidance counselor steering her high-school charges through the perils of college admission. Thirteen years ago, when she was graduating from Columbia University, her wealthy family---especially her dear grandmother Winnie---persuaded her to give up the love of her life, Ben Cutler, a penniless boy from Queens College. Anne has never married and hasn't seen Ben since---until his nephew turns up in her high school and starts applying to college.
Now Ben is a successful writer, a world traveler, and a soon-to-be married man; and Winnie's health is beginning to fail. All of these changes have Anne beginning to wonder...Can old love be rekindled, or are past mistakes too painful to forget?
With all the wit and perceptiveness of Jane Austen's Persuasion, Jane Austen in Scarsdale is a fresh and romantic new comedy from a novelist with "a knack for making modern life reflect literature in the most engaging manner" (Library Journal).
Praise for Jane Austen in Scarsdale
"For every frazzled student applying to college, for all anxious parents trying to get a student into college, for all teachers besieged by requests for higher grades and glowing letters of recommendation, this book is for you. I am persuaded that Cohen, like Jane Austen, knows how to work things out for her heroine--neatly and satisfactorily. I loved it."
---Ann B. Ross, author of MISS JULIA'S SCHOOL OF BEAUTY
"Paula Marantz Cohen has done it again! Jane Austen in Scarsdale is laugh-out-loud funny, literate, wise--and best of all, a satirical mirror of our times. She has become our own Jane Austen."
---Diane Ravitch, author of THE LANGUAGE POLICE
Acclaim for the Previous Novels of Paula Marantz Cohen
MUCH ADO ABOUT JESSIE KAPLAN
"A brightly comic book...[that explores] the redemptive capacity of the literary imagination...Highly literate light fiction."
---Times Literary Supplement
"Unabashedly entertaining reading...touching and not a little wise."
---The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A comic tour-de-force...as fresh and pungent as an apple cake [that] proves that literary fiction doesn't have to be elegiac in tone to be successful."
---The Hudson Review
JANE AUSTEN IN BOCA
"Utterly charming...think Pride and Prejudice, but with better weather."
"Page-turner of the week... Austen never schmoozed by the pool with a pack of bronzed yentas, but her Pride plot proves as durable as ever...in this witty romp."
"Clever, warmhearted...Cohen's wit is sharp, smart, and satirical, and her characterizations are vividly on target."
---The San Francisco Chronicle
"While the novel works as a clever remake of Pride and Prejudice, it has equal merit as contemporary social commentary."
---Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal
In a tale inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, dedicated guidance counselor Anne Ehrlich works to help her high school charges through the perils of their college admissions and remembers a past love whose nephew requires her assistance. By the author of Much Ado About Jesse Kaplan. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.
The bestselling author of "Jane Austen in Boca" combines the wit and romance of Austen's "Persuasion" with a brilliantly astute look at the frenzy of college admissions in this irresistible comedy of manners.
About the Author
Paula Marantz Cohen is Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is the author of two previous novels, Jane Austen in Boca and Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan, and four scholarly works of nonfiction, including Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth and The Daughter as Reader: Encounters Between Literature and Life. She lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, with her husband and two children.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Questions
1. Discuss whether the book is a realistic rendering of the college admissions process or a farcical exaggeration (this may well depend upon your own experiences with the process).
2. To what extent does the book achieve a balance between poking fun at the parents and treating them with understanding and sympathy?
3. How do you personally account for the kind of excesses that the book describes? Is it a matter of a particular community (an affluent suburb like Scarsdale) or of a larger social trend in
4. Do you understand why Anne gave up Ben at her grandmothers urging when she was twenty- one? Does this seem realistic to you or does it make you think less of Anne?
5. What is your opinion of Winnie? Do you think she genuinely changes in the course of the novel?
6. Do you believe in the idea that there is one
person who is right for us in life and that if
we miss our chance to connect with that
person, we lose something invaluable and
7. The novel is loosely modeled on Jane Austens Persuasion. Anne is overly persuaded to give up Ben when she was young. How does this theme of over-persuasion fit with the students she deals with in her capacity as guidance counselor? Discuss the degree to which the parents in the novel see their children as accessories: signs of status and upward mobility.
8. Discuss the degree to which the frenzy over college admission is a genuine expression of the love, concern, and fear that parents have about their children. Do you feel that parents are now more fearful than they used to be about their childrens future? If so, why?
9. If you have read Austens Persuasion, discuss the likenesses and similarities between its plot and the story of this novel. Why do you think the author chose to diverge where she did?
10. Some people have said that the book, while poking fun at the college admissions process, also supplies some helpful tips on what to do in guiding ones childs application process. Discuss some of these tips.
11. Where does helpful coaching end and immoral manipulation begin in helping students present the best possible profile to a college?
12. Do you believe that early admission and early action should be discontinued?
13. Discuss the sample college essays that are given in the book and say why they are amusing (if you find them so). How do you think Anne will handle the college admissions process when (or if) she has children of her own?