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Jane Austen in Boca: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (November 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312290888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312290887
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,643,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Bennett daughters are recast as elderly Jewish widows in this amusing, kvetchy take on Pride and Prejudice. May Newman, a sweet, gentle woman in her 70s, is happily settled at the Boca Festa retirement community in Boca Raton, Fla., where she enjoys the companionship of her best friends, Lila Katz, a pragmatic redhead in search of a well-to-do husband, and Flo Kliman, a sharp-tongued retired librarian. May's pleasant daily routine is disrupted when her matchmaking New Jersey daughter-in-law visits and introduces May to recently widowed Norman Grafstein, a particularly eligible senior. Despite herself, May finds she enjoys Norman's company, but Flo takes an instant dislike to Norman's best friend, cranky English professor emeritus Stan Jacobs. The plot unfolds in ways predictable to those familiar with Pride and Prejudice (or any of its many adaptations), enhanced by Cohen's near-sociological scrutiny of life in Boca Raton. Cohen (whose mother-in-law lives in Boca) has a sharp eye for details like its residents' favorite colors (pink, turquoise and gold), preferred shopping destination (Loehmann's) and favorite movie (Schindler's List). The Austen parallels are cleverly drawn and culminate in a class on Pride and Prejudice offered by Stan, who discovers that the Boca Festa women identify with the meddling Mrs. Bennett rather than heroine Elizabeth. The humor may be of the Borscht Belt variety ("she would find May Newman a husband or plotz"), but it will be thoroughly appreciated by the snowbird set.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A clever update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this first novel is set in a Jewish retirement community in Boca Raton, FL. Carol Newman is obsessively seeking a mate for her widowed mother-in-law, May. When Carol decides that the recently bereaved and very wealthy Norman Grafstein is the ideal candidate, the resulting comedy of manners is worthy of Austen herself. The author's perceptive observations of life among the retirees of Florida are combined with skillful parallels to the plot and characters of the original novel. The narrative flows, and the reader will be chuckling, trying to guess who from Boca is a character from Austen. Particularly delightful is Flo Kliman, the contemporary Elizabeth Bennett character, a retired librarian from the University of Chicago with a keen intellect and acerbic wit. Although certain aspects of the plot seem contrived, this fiction debut by humanities professor Cohen, who has written scholarly studies such as Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth, will amuse readers everywhere. Recommended for public libraries, especially those with significant Jewish communities.
Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Still, a good book - lots of fun, and worth the read.
The basis of the book is the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice.
I could not put this book down and read it in one weekend.
D. Gale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a rare book in modern fiction. It has an elusive element that many authors seek but few attain: it has charm.
Jane Austen in Boca is a Pride and Prejudice novel set in a modern-day Jewish retirement residence in Boca Raton. Unlike many efforts to borrow Jane Austen's plot lines, this book successfully translates the plot into its setting. The characters are witty, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always interesting. Even though I knew perfectly well how it had to come out, I read as though I were in a genuine state of suspense. In other words, the book lured me into its world and into the minds of its characters with enormous success. If only life were really like this!
This book is a delightful read. It is elegantly written and beautifully paced. Without Jane Austen's acerbity, it was nonetheless both compelling and comedic (in the classical sense of the term). I look forward to more fiction from this author.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on December 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Jane Austen's classic novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE begins with the oft-repeated line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Paula Marantz Cohen lets her readers know, right on the opening page, that she is of a similar mind. "Take it from me," the book opens, "A nice widower with a comfortable living can be nudged into settling down by a not-so-young woman who plays her cards right." Her debut novel, JANE AUSTEN IN BOCA, takes the action and gentle intrigue of Jane Austen's 18th century country gentry and schleps them all the way to a Jewish "retirement club" in Boca Raton, Florida. In this club, dogs wear embroidered jackets because in Boca "many dog owners feel their pets should be entitled to enjoy an accessory now and then." It is a sweet and gentle look into the lives and loves of some pretty hilarious senior citizens. I'm way under 70 and about as WASP-y as they come, but I still liked it.
The central plot of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE concerns the very British Bennet family's attempts to marry off their five daughters and all the subterfuge and machinations contained therein. The first two-thirds of Cohen's book borrows fairly heavily from Austen's classic. All the main characters are here. Elizabeth Bennet is now Flo Kliman, a retired University of Chicago librarian, while Elizabeth's sister Jane shows up as May Newman, a softhearted widow. Mrs. Bennet is turned into May's daughter-in-law Carol, a woman who "was constantly striving to improve the lives of those around her, whether they liked it or not." Carol believes May is depressed and needs some companionship, preferably of the Jewish widower variety. She, like Mrs. Bennet, hopes to help her mother-in-law snag a live one, whether May likes it or not.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John T. Farrell on July 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her send-up of Pride and Prejudice, Paula Marantz Cohen, as one might expect, centers her novel on "three or four families in a country village." But in this case, the "country village" is Boca Festa, a retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida, and the "three or four families" are a trio of Jewish widows on the look-out for husbands to replace their departed mates. The result is a witty and penetrating first novel.

Flo Kliman is just what one would expect and wish Elizabeth Bennet to be in her new setting: wise-cracking, clear-headed, opinionated, and fiercely loyal to her two best friends, May Newman/Jane Bennet and Lila Katz/Charlotte Lucas. With an able assist from Carol Newman, May's daughter-in-law and a worthy successor to the harassed Mrs. Bennet, the novel charts the course of May's romance with Norman Grafstein, who plays Mr. Bingley to cranky Stan Jacobs' Mr. Darcy. Add to this mix the buffoon Hy Marcus as Mr. Collins and the smarmy Mel Shrimer as Mr. Wickham and you get one the most amusing novels I've read in awhile.

And like her predecessor, Miss Austen, Dr. Cohen provides an abundance of social commentary, both incisive and insightful. Very little escapes her discerning eye, from shopping mores to methods of parenting, anti-semitism to anglophilia, culinary tastes to gay rights, interior to landscape design, and senior hair styles to retirement couture. All this is served with such a mix of affection and acuity that it proves to be a very tasty dish indeed!

According to the dust jacket, Paula Marantz Cohen is Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University, a background I suspect gave rise to the ultimate chapter of the book, the raucous and unruly opening session of Stan Jacobs' senior enrichment course on "Jane Austen and Her Adaptors.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark Greenberg on December 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Cohen adapts Pride and Prejudice to the senior set living in Boca Raton with wit, a keen eye for manners and customs, and a great sense of the rhythms of language and life one encounters there. The characters show why Austen's observations about human nature are timeless, and Cohen embodies in them the qualities of the Bennett sisters, post-menopause. Most impressive is the novel's structure, which brings the characters together--and to some self-realizations--in a formal discussion of Austen herself in one of Boca's retirement communities. The book, while mildly, often hilariously satiric, brims with a generosity of spirit and deep understanding of the generation of septuagenarian Jews and their offspring. Satisfying reading for anyone who enjoys novels of manners, Jane Austen, or finely wrought observations of life in ethnic communities.
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