"The Three Weissmanns of Westport"

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

Betty Weissman is a seventy-five year old woman whose seventy-eight year old husband has just left her for someone much younger. She is shut out of her upscale New York City home while the lawyers argue over who gets what, so with her two middle-aged daughters, she moves into a cousin's dilapidated seaside cottage in Westport, Connecticut. Her daughters are Annie, a librarian, and Miranda, a literary agent. Annie, whose children are grown and gone, is the practical one who worries about paying bills and taking care of her mother and sister, and Miranda is the impulsive one, running away from scandal and looking for happiness wherever she can find it.

 From what I've read about it, this book is meant to be Cathleen Schine's "homage" to Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility. I see the similarities of course, but I was quite disappointed overall, which may have been inevitable. Just mentioning Jane Austen creates an expectation of excellence that few could meet and I didn't think this book even came close .

It started out pretty good. The storyline had potential and I thought the characters were developing well. It seemed to be heading in an interesting direction and I was looking forward to seeing how it unfolded, when it just sort of stalled. I got bored and oh how I hate it when that happens.

The language started to go downhill part way through as well. I didn't notice much swearing at all in the beginning, but there is lots of it later on. There didn't seem to be any reason or need for it; it didn't add anything to any aspect of the book that I could see. If anything it made the characters weaker and less interesting. I always feel like a writer is taking the easy way out when he has his character express himself with swear words rather than actually articulating what he's thinking or feeling. As a reader I feel cheated.

Do I recommend the book? No, I don't think I can. It's so frustrating when great reviews have you anticipating a book and then when you finally get a copy and read it you just don't like it. This was one of those for me, though I know many, many people have read it and loved it. Good thing there are lots of books out there for every taste. Maybe I'll have better luck with the next one: "The Colony of Unrequited Dreams" by Wayne Johnston.


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