Monday, March 28, 2011
The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel by Cathleen Schine
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).
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.