Cathleen Schine is the author of The Love Letter (1995) and Rameau's Niece (1993), both of which were adapted into films. She set The Three Weissmanns of Westport, a family drama, largely in her hometown of Westport, Connecticut. Recently revieweD The New Yorkers ( Sept/Oct 2007)
The Story: In Schine's latest endeavor, Jane Austen's beloved classic Sense and Sensibility undergoes a modern day makeover. Wealthy businessman Joseph Weissmann decides to divorce his sweet wife Betty (a.k.a. Mrs. Dashwood), citing irreconcilable differences (i.e., a younger woman enters the picture). He is 78, she is 75, and their marriage has lasted almost 50 years. Betty suffers further insult when she is turned out of their elegant Upper West Side home and forced to relocate to a small cottage in Westport. Along with her daughters, the sensible Annie and the high-strung Miranda, Betty must learn to forge new relationships and adjust to a world of vastly reduced circumstances.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 304 pages. $25. ISBN: 9780374299040
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This novel is simply full of pleasure: the pleasure of reading, the pleasure of Austen, and the pleasure that the characters, so rightly and humorously, pursue. ... [A]n absolute triumph of a novel." Anne Trubek
NY Times Book Review
"[S]parkling, crisp, clever, deft, hilarious and deeply affecting. ... Schine's homage has it all: stinging social satire, mordant wit, delicate charm, lilting language and cosseting materialistic detail." Dominique Browning
"The ironic title--the three are anything but wise men--does little justice to Schine's real wit, which playfully probes the lies, self-deceptions, and honorable hearts of her characters."
"The operation is a success--the story is fun to read on its own, and the twists and updates on the original add another layer of mischief. ... Is every pair of sisters Sense and Sensibility? I guess that's what gives the idea legs." Marion Winik
Wall Street Journal
"[A] fitfully appealing, rather too literal retelling. ... Because Sense and Sensibility seems more a final stop for Ms. Schine than a jumping-off point, The Three Weissmanns of Westport is never sufficiently compelling on its own terms and never succeeds at being more than a mildly diverting curiosity." Joanne Kaufman
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.