Synopses & Reviews
Jane Austens beloved Sense and Sensibility has moved to Westport, Connecticut, in this enchanting modern-day homage to the classic novel When Joseph Weissmann divorced his wife, he was seventy eight years old and she was seventy-five . . . He said the words “Irreconcilable differences,” and saw real confusion in his wifes eyes. “Irreconcilable differences?” she said. “Of course there are irreconcilable differences. What on earth does that have to do with divorce?” Thus begins The Three Weissmanns of Westport, a sparkling contemporary adaptation of Sense and Sensibility from the always winning Cathleen Schine, who has already been crowned “a modern-day Jewish Jane Austen” by Peoples Leah Rozen. In Schines story, sisters Miranda, an impulsive but successful literary agent, and Annie, a pragmatic library director, quite unexpectedly find themselves the middle-aged products of a broken home. Dumped by her husband of nearly fifty years and then exiled from their elegant New York apartment by his mistress, Betty is forced to move to a small, run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. Joining her are Miranda and Annie, who dutifully comes along to keep an eye on her capricious mother and sister. As the sisters mingle with the suburban aristocracy, love starts to blossom for both of them, and they find themselves struggling with the dueling demands of reason and romance.
"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 (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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).
Two sisters recover from widowhood, divorce, and Bernie Madoff as unexpected roommates in a Manhattan apartment in the latest from Elinor Lipman, "the last urbane romantic" (Julia Glass).
Two sisters recover from widowhood, divorce, and Bernie Madoff as unexpected roommates in a Manhattan apartment
Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Schmidt is still mourning her husband, Edwin, when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margots luxurious Village apartment. For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor) and then made Ponzi-poor, its 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 money-making schemes and timid Gwen ventures back out into the dating world, the arrival of Margots 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, this is a cracklingly witty, deeply sweet novel from one of our finest comic writers.
“Her worldview? Her enthusiasm, her effortless wit? Just a few of the reasons we love Elinor Lipman.”-Boston Globe
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 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 familys various catastrophes
Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible to almost everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write 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, clouding the clarity of her days and threatening her well-defended solitude. And then there is 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 the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outwit.
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.