The Three Weissmanns of Westport: Book summary and reviews of The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

The Three Weissmanns of Westport

A Novel

By Cathleen Schine

The Three Weissmanns of Westport
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband’s mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine’s playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the impulsive sister is Miranda, a literary agent entangled in a series of scandals, and the more pragmatic sister is Annie, a library director, who feels compelled to move in and watch over her capricious mother and sister.

A New York Times Best Seller and a New York Times Editors' Choice.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The Three Weissmanns of Westport. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

Did Joseph really like Felicity?
I don't think that he knew what hit him. Felicity manipulated him to end his marriage and she continued this tactic successfully throughout the book. Every time I thought that Joseph would come to his senses, Felicity steered him in the direction ... - marymargaretf

Do you think it’s possible to outgrow your family role?
I agree with andreas about how Annie and Miranda's roles changed as the book progressed. They did take on more of a parent role with Betty although each in different ways. Annie was the responsible one, but it seemed that as Betty was dying Miranda ... - scottishrose

Does Roberts feel like a "tacked-on" character?
Roberts's character may not have been well developed by his thoughts, but his actions speak very loudly. He is responsible for the positive things that happen. Although, like Col.Brandon, he may have seemed destined for Miranda, Annie finally saw his... - phyllisr

Does this novel make a statement about whether "sense" or "sensibility" is the better character?
I think the book is saying that a balance of both is what works best. I see this exemplified in the Betty character. She's carefree, whimsical, a bit silly, but then digs in after she see's that Joseph's not going to take care of her and hires the ... - marshas

Generosity in Divorce?
I agree with the comments. From the beginning what got my attention was the repetition of how Joseph was a "generous" man...At first it made me laugh, then I got angry...Why "generous"? I think it was because he deep down he felt guilty and the so-... - cristinav

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Simply full of pleasure: the pleasure of reading, the pleasure of Austen, and the pleasure that the characters so rightly and humorously pursue….An absolute triumph” - The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Schine's homage to Jane Austen has it all....A sparkling, crisp, clever, deft, hilarious, and deeply affecting new novel, her best yet ... Schine is clearly a writer who loves to read as much as she loves to write. And it is great fun to play English major with her." - Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review

"Schine has been favored in so many ways by the muse of comedy ... The Three Weissmanns of Westport is full of invention, wit, and wisdom that can bear comparison to Austen's own." - The New York Review of Books

"A clever, frothy novel…Schine playfully probes the lies, self-deceptions, and honorable hearts of her characters." - The New Yorker

"Schine sets the Austen machinery in perfect forward motion, and then works some lovely modern changes, keeping the pace going at a lively clip ... Spotting the similarities and differences between the early 19th century and early 21st century stories is good sport, but the greater pleasure comes from Schine's own clever girls and their awkward attempts to find happiness." - The Boston Globe

"There is so much zest for life in this novel that you can only imagine how much fun Cathleen Schine had writing it." - Carol Memmott, USA Today  

"Absolutely wonderful. You'll turn each page with anticipation, all the while wishing you could read it slowly in order to savor the deliciousness of Schine's particular sensibility….It will warm the center of your heart." - Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

"Swap genteel nineteenth-century England for upscale contemporary Connecticut, add two sisters- one impulsive, one practical- and stir with lively doses of romance, domestic discord, sudden setbacks, and sublime surprises, and you get Cathleen Schine's homage to Jane Austen." - Elle

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Kathy
Stay with it!
I am an avid reader but it took me a month to get through the first chapters of this book. I'd read a couple pages and loose interest and go to another book. However, once I got past the beginning I read it in a weekend and LOVED IT! I am not sure what my problem was with the beginning, but I did end up loving the characters and enjoying the book as a whole. They have stayed with me, but I was especially fond of Betty, the mother, as she repeatedly tried to make the dreariest of events into a "picnic". I applaud her effort!

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Dave S
Disappointment
I wanted to like this book, and there are a few insightful comments about divorce and its impact on an older woman and grown daughters, but overall I thought the prose and character development to be lacking. The story had a lot of promise, but I never really felt I knew the characters as well as I wanted. A missed opportunity

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Author Information

Cathleen Schine Author Biography

As a child, Cathleen Schine dreamed of growing up to become a graduate student. Years later, her childhood ambitions were realized when she entered the University of Chicago’s graduate program in medieval history. There, it was noticed that she had no memory for names, dates or abstract ideas, and she was thus forced, tragically, to abandon her life-long dream. Before this disappointment, however, while on a fellowship studying paleography in Italy, Schine made an important discovery: she liked to buy shoes. So when the welcome of academia was rescinded, Schine was able to pursue a career in this area which was rewarding but short-lived, as she could not get a job. In debt and increasingly desperate, Schine turned to the lucrative world of free-lance writing. Having failed as an ...

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