The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel

Paperback | August 27, 2014

byCathleen Schine

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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 husband's mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine's playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen's 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. Schine's 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).

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From the Publisher

A New York Times Best SellerA New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceBetty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband's mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In ...

Cathleen Schine is the author of The New Yorkers and The Love Letter, among other novels. She has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review.

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see all books by Cathleen Schine
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 2.54 × 5.41 × 0.76 inPublished:August 27, 2014Publisher:PicadorLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:031268052X

ISBN - 13:9780312680527

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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing... I was very disappointed in this book. I found the plot to be very predictable, the characters under-developed, the pacing was slow, and the dialogue mundane. I don’t understand this constant comparison between Jane Austen and Cathleen Schine. Austen writes with such charm, appeal and an attractiveness. Her words flow along like a maple leaf rippling over the water on a stream. I’m just left shaking my head, puffing out my lips that I’m finally finished and thinking it was even more difficult to read, in part, due to my yawning! Sorry, in good conscience, I just could not give this one a good review.
Date published: 2011-02-27

Extra Content

Read from the Book

     When Joseph Weissmann divorced his wife, he was seventy-eight years old and she was seventy-five. He announced his decision in the kitchen of their apartment on the tenth floor of a large, graceful Central Park West building built at the turn of the last century, the original white tiles of the kitchen still gleaming on the walls around them. Joseph, known as Joe to his colleagues at work but always called Joseph by his wife, said the words “irreconcilable differences,” and saw real confusion in his wife’s eyes.     Irreconcilable differences? she said. Of course there are irreconcilable differences. What on earth does that have to do with divorce?     In Joe’s case it had very little to do with divorce. In Joe’s case, as is so often the case, the reason for the divorce was a woman. But a woman was not, unsurprisingly, the reason he gave his wife.     Irreconcilable differences?     Betty was surprised. They had been married for forty-eight years. She was used to Joseph, and she was sure Joseph was used to her. But he would not be dissuaded. Their history was history to him.     Joseph had once been a handsome man. Even now, he was straight, unstooped; his bald head was somehow distinguished rather than lacking, as if men, important men, aspired to a smooth shining pate. His nose was narrow and protruded importantly. His eyes were also narrow and, as he aged, increasingly protected by folds of skin, as if they were secrets.Women liked him. Betty had certainly liked him, once. He was quiet and unobtrusive, requiring only a large breakfast before he went to work, a large glass of Scotch when he arrived home, and a small, light dinner at 7:30 sharp.     Over the years, Betty began to forget that she liked Joseph. The large breakfast seemed grotesque, the drink obsessive, the light supper an affectation. This happened in their third decade together and lasted until their fourth. Then, Betty noticed, Joseph’s routines somehow began to take on a comforting rhythm, like the heartbeat of a mother to a newborn baby. Betty was once again content, in love, even. They traveled to Tuscany and stood in the Chianti hills watching the swallows and the swift clouds of slate-gray rain approaching. They took a boat through the fjords of Norway and another through the Galápagos Islands. They took a train through India from one palace to the next, imagining the vanished Raj and eating fragrant delicate curries. They did all these things together. And then, all these things stopped.     “Irreconcilable differences,” Joe said.     “Oh, Joseph. What does that have to do with divorce?”     “I want to be generous,” Joe said.     Generous? she thought. It was as if she were the maid and she was being fired. Would he offer her two months’ salary?     “You cannot be generous with what is mine,” she said.     And the divorce, like horses in a muddy race, their sides frothing, was off and running.

Bookclub Guide

Just as Jane Austen delighted readers with wise heroines and surprising turns of fate, Cathleen Schine delivers a world of wry insight in each of her novels. With The Three Weissmanns of Westport, she brings Sense and Sensibility to modern-day Connecticut, where Betty Weissmann and her two middle-aged daughters have begun living as exiles. At age seventy-five, Betty has been dumped by her husband of nearly fifty years. He and his mistress have set up housekeeping in the sumptuous Manhattan apartment that Betty had called home for most of her adult life. Her daughter Miranda-a tough-as-nails literary agent-is facing bankruptcy after a series of scandals. Her other daughter, Annie, is smitten with the brother of her stepfather's mistress. Banding together against a slew of looming crises, Betty, Miranda, and Annie find refuge in a run-down beach cottage owned by a generous cousin. While Betty discovers a wealth of personal strength, her daughters discover an intriguing, aristocratic community-whose population includes the handsome actor Kit Maybank.Raising timeless questions of the heart, The Three Weissmanns of Westport is an ideal selection for reading groups. The topics that follow are designed to enhance your experience as you discuss this captivating novel of reason versus romance.

Editorial Reviews

"Schine's 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 Austen's 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 Schine's 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. You'll turn each page with anticipation, all the while wishing you could read it slowly in order to savor the deliciousness of Schine's 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 Schine's 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