REVIEW: The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

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The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen SchineSo many Gentle Readers wrote to us and so many Janeite acquaintances said to us, “Did you hear about this new book, The Three Weissmanns of Westport?” that we became intrigued. We did not receive a review copy, but everyone kept telling us about it and seemed surprised we had not read it, so we could not help thinking it might be a good sort of book and one that perhaps we should read in our copious free time. A while back, we noticed it on the list of NY Times Bestsellers at Kobo for a very good price, and we had a generous coupon, so decided to give it a try.

The book is a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility. After 50 years of marriage, Joseph Weissmann tells his wife, Betty, that he wants a divorce, and that she has to vacate her beloved prewar Upper West Side apartment, which she has lovingly tended and improved since the 1950s, to make way for his new love, Felicity. Fanny Dashwood-like, Felicity has convinced Joseph that by kicking Betty out of her home, he is actually being generous, and Joseph very much wants to be generous.

Betty’s cousin Lou, a refugee who has made a pile in real estate, offers an empty cottage he owns in Westport, Connecticut, to the widow. She moves there with her daughters, Annie and Miranda. Passionate, impetuous Miranda is a literary agent specializing in memoirs whose business fails when several of her clients’ memoirs are outed as mostly made-up. Sensible Annie, long divorced, is a librarian; her finances are not as precarious as those of her mother and sister, but if she sublets her Manhattan apartment, she can help her adult sons pay for college and medical school. The three women move together to the cottage, which turns out to be a throwback to pre-gentrified Westport, not “beautified” or improved in any way and actually quite run-down. Continue reading