Monday, March 28, 2011

The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel by Cathleen Schine

From back of book:

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 caprcious 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 humoroursly pursue...An absolute triumph"(The Cleveland Plain Dealer).

My thoughts:

I absolutely enjoyed this book. It was such an engrossing read. The writing was excellent and the characters were unforgettable. Its a story about everyday life and the ways in which people handle the cruel and biting ways that life can twist and turn when you least expect it.  Of course, the rare good bits in life that make you smile are mentioned in the book - they just don't seem to happen that often.  Perhaps, that is why I like this book, because of the realistic manner in which life is depicted (messy, complicated and unresolved).  Its refreshing to read a book that is made up of moody, broken and completely self-absorbed characters who all seem rather nutty and unlikeable, yet somehow manage to inspire a connection (or at least I connected with some of them on some level).   Of course, there were the few characters that bordered on the ridiculous (I laughed out loud when they appeared in the story) - I'm thinking they were inserted into the story line to show us how mundane situations can easily be turned into a melodramatic soap opera.  And what is this story about?  Well, everything.  We have divorce, romance, love, death, money, deception, sexuality, pregnancy, scandal, and family all tied into one big story that revolves around Betty and her two daughters, Miranda and Annie, who find themselves once again all living together under the same roof  (which is not exactly turning out to be what they expected) .  Betty is refusing to accept the fact that her husband of nearly five decades has filed for divorce, Miranda is hiding out after a horribly embarrassing work scandal has left her bankrupt, and Annie is trying to keep her mother and sister from falling apart, even if that means ignoring her own needs.  Each of these women is attempting to find some sort of resolution to their situation, yet neither of them really try to do anything about it.  Or at least not at first.  As the story progresses and more dramas seem to ensue, we find these women's strength pushing through and aiding them in moving forward with their lives.  We see some situations being resolved, while others are pushed aside.  And we have an ending which is bittersweet.  All in all, a book that makes you laugh, cry and sigh in exasperation - a good read in my opinion.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys women's fiction. 

On a side note, reading this book means that I have completed the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011.  I joined at the neophyte level, which means I only had to read 1 book if I wanted ( I could read anywhere from 1 - 4 books).  Yay, me!!   Of course now that I think about it, reading only 1 book does seem rather lazy. Hmmm. Perhaps, I'll read another - like, Sense and Sensibility


Lisa said...

I've heard so much good about this book. I bought if for my mom for Christmas thinking she would really enjoy it. What a disappointment that she didn't. But I've got it now and I've still got high hopes!

Nadia said...

Lisa, that is disappointing. I hope you like it. I can sort of understand what parts she probably didn't like, because there were some that I didn't care for. Overall though, I did find the book to be a good read though. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on it.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

This is one that I've been planning to read as well - glad you enjoyed it!

Nadia said...

Coffee and a Book Chick, hope you enjoy it! Can't wait to read your thoughts on it :)

Ti said...

"Messy, complicated and unresolved" is right up my alley :) I don't like "perfect" reads. I like people that are complicated and flawed. They are more interesting that way.

Tom C said...

That sounds like a very well-organised reading challenge - and should provide you with some great reading through the year. This one sounds like a clever take on the S&S theme

Wallace said...

This has been sitting on my shelf since it came out. I NEED to read it, especially now that I see how much you enjoyed it!

Carin S. said...

Glad you liked it! I own this book but as soon as I got it a friend borrowed it, and that seems like a year ago! NOt that I've been at a loss for reading material in the meantime, but you know how it is with things you don't have.

Nadia said...

Ti, me too :)

Tom, it should and it will. I've never read S&S, so I'm thinking should - that way I can understand the parallels between the two books.

Wallace, read it! And let me know what you think of it :)

Carin S., I know what you mean ;)