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
“Schines 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 Austens 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 Schines 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. Youll turn each page with anticipation, all the while wishing you could read it slowly in order to savor the deliciousness of Schines 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 Schines 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
"Always a pleasure to read for his well-drawn characters, quiet insight and dialogue that crackles with wit, Morton here raises his own bar in all three areas." -- Kirkus, starred review
"Morton’s characters are sharply drawn, vivid in temperament and behavior, and his prose smartly reveals Florence’s strength and dignity." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Morton’s intelligent, layered portrait of a feisty, independent older woman is an absolute joy to read, not only for its delightful wit but also for its dignified appraisal of aging and living life on one’s own terms." --Booklist, starred review
"Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) has created an obstreperous, rebellious character who is likable for being true to herself." --Library Journal
“Combining a rigorous intellect and a deep humanity, this is the story of a feminist hero, a family coming together and apart, and the ways we interpret the past and attempt to face the future. Most of all, Florence Gordon shows how passion — of one type or the other — shapes a heart." —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“Perceptive isn't a strong enough word to describe Brian Morton's insight into family dynamics; psychic is more like it. From the nuances of a long marriage to the inevitable, infinitely sad divisions and tender connections between grandparents and parents and children, Morton nails it all. And somehow he still manages to be funny, even as he breaks your heart.”—Emily Gould, author of Friendship
"Florence Gordon is a marvelous creation. Like many great characters in English literature, she is a sacred monster, fully realized and richly present in the pages of this thoroughly enjoyable book."—Vivian Gornick, author of Fierce Attachments and Approaching Eye Level
"A marvelously wise, compassionate, funny, rueful and altogether winning novel. Brian Morton knows inside-out this tribe of witty, thoughtful people who, for all their decent values and good intentions, can't seem to narrow the unbridgeable distance between men and women, young and old, pride and compromise, solitariness and community. Florence Gordon is his most generously ample, humane and vital book."—Phillip Lopate, author of To Show and To Tell and Against Joie de Vivre
"Florence Gordon is one of contemporary literature’s most wondrous characters: flawed and brilliant, funny and serious, totally unforgettable."—Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and Half a Life
“Florence Gordon belongs on the very short list of wonderful novels about older women. Florence, the brilliant, cranky, solitude-craving feminist writer, is an indelible character, and her New York—the fading city of books and writers and melancholy oddballs —lives on in these immensely pleasurable pages.”—Katha Pollit, author of Learning to Drive: and Other Life Stories
"Darkly funny...compulsively readable..." --People "A novel to make you laugh, cringe, and appreciate your mother." --O, the Oprah Magazine
"Debut author Norton, the great-great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, writes fearlessly, and the results are compelling. Reading this novel is like watching a train speed toward you, and youre paralyzed on the tracks
“Despite the sweet title, this debut novel by Ashley Prentice Norton is a dark tale of maternal sadism, twisted sex, and self-destruction. Norton is a fearless writer.”
— James Frey, author of Bright Shiny Morning
"I am not a reader easily shocked, and I was shocked by the brave twists and daring turns of Ashley Norton's compulsively readable The Chocolate Money. This story of a girl coming of age in Chicago, heir to a chocolate fortune and all the spoils and hungers that fortune sparks, is fearless and utterly unputdownable."
— Jennifer Gilmore, author of Something Red and Golden Country
"Not since Mommy Dearest has there been a transcription of a complex mother-daughter relationship as powerful. I rooted with all my heart for this girl. Ashley Prentice Nortons writing is so gripping, vivid, and moving — so realistically drawn — it leaves even the most well-adjusted reader with the chilling knowledge of what its like to be raised by wolves. The Chocolate Money is devastating and unforgettable."
— Isabel Gillies, author of Happens Every Day and A Year and Six Seconds
"The Chocolate Money is the perfect page-turner, offering a window into the life of the richer-than-rich, complete with scandalous sex, wild parties, a snobby prep school, and a tyrannical train-wreck of a mother. But it's also something more—its a perceptive portrait of a young woman growing past the world that shaped her. Norton writes with empathy and wisdom about mothers and daughters, and the pain of loving a parent you must escape."
-- Jill A. Davis, author of Ask Again Later
“This is the darkest comedy I've ever read, overflowing with unflinching observations of the elite that are both laugh-out-loud and heart-wrenchingly poignant, all woven with the searing wit of a truly gifted new voice in fiction.”
—Jill Kargman, author of Wolves in Chic Clothing
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.