Synopses & Reviews
“It’s all wonderful fun. Lipman sketches her characters’ foibles with amused affection and moves the plot forward with practiced ease.” – Washington Post
Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Schmidt is still mourning her husband, Edwin, when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margot’s luxurious Greenwich Village apartment. For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor) and then made Ponzi-poor, it’s a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief and help make ends meet. To further this effort she enlists a third boarder, the handsome, cupcake-baking Anthony.
As the three swap moneymaking schemes and timid Gwen ventures back out into the dating world, the arrival of Margot’s paroled ex in the efficiency apartment downstairs creates not just complications but the chance for all sorts of unexpected forgiveness. A sister story about love, loneliness, and new life in middle age from one of our finest comic writers.
“The View from Penthouse B mixes sisters, online dating, and Bernie Madoff's victims into a witty confection.” – Parade
“Lipman’s acuity as a social observer makes her voice seem to belong to a wise and funny friend.” – Boston Globe
“A sly comedy of modern manners.” – Miami Herald
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 husbands mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schines playful and devoted homage to Jane Austens 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. Schines 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).
A sister story about love, loneliness, and new life in middle age, from the author of The Family Man and The Inn at Lake Devine.
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family’s various catastrophes
A Kirkus Prize finalist
An Indie Next pick
“Exquisitely crafted . . . Witty, nuanced and ultimately moving.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
"Florence Gordon may be the most magnificent fiction character you will meet this year." —Christian Science Monitor
Meet Florence Gordon: blunt and brilliant feminist icon to young women, invisible to everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence deserves to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she begins writing her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, threatening her well-defended solitude. And then there’s her left foot, which is starting to drag . . . With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them Florence, who can humble fools with just one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outwit.
The story of the daughter of a glamorous chocolate heiress who must navigate a complex landscape of wealth, sex, and decadence through a privileged childhood in Chicago and an East Coast prep school, with only her narcissistic mother to guide her.
As addictive, decadent and delicious as chocolate itself
Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.
Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.
As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest, Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.
About the Author
BRIAN MORTON is the author of four previous novels, including Starting Out in the Evening, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was made into an acclaimed feature film, and A Window Across the River, which was a Book Club selection of the Today show. He teaches at New York University, the Bennington Writing Seminars, and Sarah Lawrence College, where he also directs the writing program. He lives in New York.
Reading Group Guide
1. How do Betty and her daughters relate to men? Do the three women have the same expectations about love and relationships?
2. How do the Weissmann women define “home”? What does the Manhattan apartment mean to them? What do their reactions to the Westport cottage say about their personalities? Would you have enjoyed living there?
3. In Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood does her best to help her family thrive despite dwindling fortunes. What challenges do women still face in such situations, even with the cultural changes that have taken place since Jane Austen was writing?
4. Which cad is worse: Schines Kit Maybank or Austens John Willoughby? If Miranda could meet Marianne, what advice would the two characters give each other?
5. The fact that Miranda and Annie are not Josephs biological children also mirrors Austens plot. Would Joseph have handled the divorce differently if the girls had been his biological daughters?
6. Is Frederick a good father to Gwen and Evan? What stokes Annies attraction to him throughout the novel?
7. Is Betty very much like her relatives? Which of your family members would you turn to if you were in her situation?
8. What accounts for the similarities and differences between Annie and Miranda? Are both women simply driven by their temperaments, or have they shaped each others personalities throughout their lives? How does their relationship compare to yours with your own siblings?
9. Schines work often blends humor with misfortune, such as Mirandas undoing by authors who turn out to be plagiarists and extreme fabricators. What other aspects of the novel capture the tragicomic way life unfolds?
10. Why is it so hard for Joseph to understand why his stepdaughters are mad at him? Why does he prefer Felicity to Betty? Discuss the revelations about Amber. In what way is her romantic situation similar to Felicitys?
11. Ultimately, how do the Weissmanns reconcile sense with sensibility? Who are the books most rational characters? Who is the most emotional?
12. What makes Roberts remarkable (eventually)? Who are the overlooked “characters” in your life story?
13. What aspects of the ending surprised you the most? What had you predicted for Betty, and for Leanne? Do the novels closing scenes reflect an Austen ending?
14. Does the storytelling style in The Three Weissmanns of Westport remind you of Schines other portraits of love? What makes the Weissmanns story unique?
Reading Group Guide written by Amy Root / Amy Roots Wordshop, Inc.