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The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel Hardcover – February 2, 2010

3.1 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Feb.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

The seemingly endless parade of Jane Austen adaptations (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, anyone?) may tempt weary readers to give this book a pass. And, really, who can blame them? Perhaps an exception should be made, however, for The Three Weissmanns of Westport, which most critics hailed as a clever and warmhearted tale about love, life, and the true meaning of family. Schine's story captures the essence of Austen's classics, with pages filled with vibrant characters and insightful social commentary. Only the Wall Street Journal thought the novel too derivative. Both funny and sad, The Three Weissmans is the literary version of a delectable desert.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299040
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Catherine Schine has written a funny and on-target tale of three women starting over in their lives. Rarely in fiction is one of the heroines a 75 year old woman who is being dumped by her husband of five decades. The title refers to Mrs. Weissmann and her two daughters, forced to live together because of various dire financial circumstances. Ms. Schine examines the foibles of love and of relationships between men and women in middle age and the senior years (the 1987 movie "Moonstruck" comes to mind). It is refreshing to read of romance late in life, especially in a novel as well-written as this one.
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Format: Hardcover
What a terrific read! Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down until I finished. The author sets up her situation very quickly and draws readers in with fine characterizations, unpredictable plot turns and excellent insights. She also does a wonderful job with setting the scene - whether it is in New York City, a Westport beach cottage or Palm Springs. Her writing is subtle and accessible, without unnecessary flourishes or affectation.

All in all, whether you do or don't want to compare the book to Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" [as the very positive front-page review in The New York Times Book Review did], this is a book that you'll enjoy and tell your friends to read.
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Format: Hardcover
The Three Weissmanns of Westport is a fun read. It is hardly updated Jane Austen. Like past reviewers, I was quite surprised to see it reviewed on the front page of the Book Review of the New York Times. It is contemporary, easy to relate to, especially if you live in Manhattan and are of a certain age. I must admit at times I felt it was just a step up from chick lit and just a fun escape book. Visually, I could see Nancy Meyer casting it, setting her usual beautiul scenery, decorating the Wesport homes, Manhattan apartment of Betty and Josie or even collaborating with Nora Ephron and writing a really witty script.
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Format: Hardcover
As a Janeite, I have noticed that there are two kinds of Austen fans--those who despise the spin-offs/sequels/as-inspired-bys and those who write them. Well, not quite. But I still feel like a bit of an oddity because I like some but find most really plebeian and some truly offensive.

What I love about THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT is that you can read and enjoy its wit, charm, and humor without making any Jane Austen parallels whatsoever--yet, if you're a JA fan, you note each one with admiration and a frisson of recognition.

The story isn't the oldest one in the world, but it is certainly a familiar one in 2010--a man trades in his wife of many years for one much younger, in part as an attempt to stave off mortality. When Joseph Weissman leaves Betty, his wife of almost 50 years, she goes through a panoply of responses to the loss. His step-daughters (whom he considers his daughters) are equally emotionally savaged, even though both are well into adulthood. When the three wounded Weissmanns move into a Westport "cottage" together, they do so primarily for financial reasons. Yet they discover that the move allows them to move forward into entirely different (and for the most part, more positive) lives.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away--or the parallels to SENSE AND SENSIBILITY that are perfectly modernized. The Marianne and Eleanor roles are inhabited by people we've known or observed in today's world, yet true to Austen's vision of the sense/sensibility sisters. Betty is cannier and more central to the novel than the original Mrs. Dashwood, though just as improvident financially. The narrator/author is a wise, observant and entertaining observer of a rather large bit of ivory. Of course no one can compare to Jane Austen--the thought of such a thing is too ludicrous to countenance. But this is a worthwhile novel for Austen fans and modern fiction fans alike.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once I began this one, I absolutely could not put it down. The author starts off with a bang as she reveals that Joseph is leaving his wife, Betty Weissman, after a long and seemingly happy marriage (from the wife's current perspective). Betty is 75 and so you can imagine her shock, especially since she is also left in dire financial straits.

I was intrigued and baffled about why anyone would decide to end a marriage so late in life. Yes, there is another woman (no spoilers here, that info comes early on), a woman who is scheming and completely opposite from her name (Felicity). Even so, seemed shocking that she could compete with Joseph's wife, a woman who comes across as zany, fun, and far more appealing than Felicity. From my viewpoint, this made Joseph come off as somewhat dense, with no insight into Felicity's clearly manipulative moves.

Anyway, after the marriage ends, Betty departs for Westport with her two daughters, having the good fortune to have a relative who provides her with a cottage. While the thought of a cottage at first seems romantic and attractive to Betty, the structure turns out to be in need of serious repair.

This one definitely came across as a comedy of manners, making it clear why it has been compared to the works of Jane Austen. However, it definitely has a modern spin. Each character is illuminated in detail and I found Betty's daughters to be as intriguing as Betty herself. One daughter, Miranda, is a literary agent who trusted her instincts when it came to choosing authors - but, as it turns out, many of those authors made up their memoirs.
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