widower's tale

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The Three Weissmanns of Westport is a delightful romp based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Like the Austen novel, Cathleen Schine's book focuses on the lives of two very different sisters-- the passionate Miranda and the sensible Annie. Betty, their mother, is an updated Mrs. Dashwood. She is not a widow, but rather, a woman in her twilight years who has been jilted by her 78 year old husband.

This is where the action begins. Her circumstances, now reduced, force her to leave her Upper West Side apartment for a cottage in Westport. Annie, the practical library director, moves in with her mother and sister and tries to take charge of their finances. Miranda, a literary agent now without clients after a James Frey-esque scandal, is unable to live without drama. She creates more by falling in love with an actor half her age.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport is more than a light frolic or another Jane Austen spin-off. It explores the social mores that are as much a part of our society as they were in the mid-nineteenth century. By depicting three contemporary women as they struggle with issues of love and class, we see the similarities between them and the Austen heroines. Cathleen Schine's great strength is to allow us to care about her characters in all their humanity.

This is the perfect book to take on vacation. It's wonderful character development and witty language complement a funny, and ultimately, touching plot.

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