The Three Weissmanns of Westport--Cathleen Schine

Coming off of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and finding mention of this book in the same set of reviews, and seeing that Schine had contributed a laudatory review blurb for the former book, I really wanted to love this book. Described as a modern reworking of the themes of Sense and Sensibility, it certainly seemed promising ground.

And for the first three-quarters of the book or so, it rambles along quite nicely, telling the story of a woman whose 78-year old husband asks her for a divorce after 50 years of marriage and throws her out of her Manhattan apartment to dwell in a small sea-side suburban house with two older daughters who come to join her.  The writing is light and engaging as are the characters and the story rolls along quite nicely.  However, it just doesn't seem ever to jell very well.  One finds oneself tiring of the self-indulgent mother who buys things from home shopping networks and the alternately virago/manipulative sister who bullies everyone.

There are touching moments throughout, but for me, the book, very disappointingly failed to come together in any meaningful way.  Perhaps this was because it was too faithful to its source (I think not), perhaps because the "innovation" and "insight" offered by the book is now almost as passé as the mores and manners of Ms. Austen herself. 

While the characters engaged and encouraged, the story was never allowed to breathe and be its own, and so ultimately, this did not work for me.  However, many might find it a light literary read, akin to Elinor Lipman and others of that ilk.  Don't dismiss it on my say-so, but dip your toe in--it won't take long to finish and you may find it more to your taste.  If so, I'd appreciate it if you'd come back and share.

Recommended for some with reservations ***

Comments

  1. I read The Three Weissmans of Westport right before Major Pettigrew and found it engaging enough to keep my mind from calculating the myriad ways the plane could go down during the course of a coast-to-coast flight.

    It's light, literate and amusing enough -- chick-lit for the middle-aged crowd, I suppose. I enjoyed it.

    I haven't read any of Ms. Schine's other books, although they're fairly popular and get good reviews, so I can't really compare her to Elinor Lippman, whom I love.

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