Monday, February 20, 2012
Review: The Three Weissmanns of Westport
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Light, bright, poignant
Four stars would be the review, but alas, while the rest of the book was evenly paced, the ending felt cold, sad and swift, like an execution.
Betty Weissmann has lived the life of a pampered woman, a housewife presiding over an elegant apartment in Central Park West. Out of the blue, her husband of almost fifty years tells her he wants a divorce. At the age of 75, Betty is shocked for if her husband had wanted to leave her it should have happened 30 years ago! Betty’s world is torn apart, especially when she is asked to leave her home. Where is she to go, and without her credit cards, how will she live?
Cousin Lou, truly the only character in the story to understand family and friendship, soon reaches out to Betty, after all, “she’s family.” Soon he has promised Betty that she can stay in his cottage in Westport. And as Betty’s comfortable life falls apart, her children begin their mid-life crises. Miranda has just learned that her published authors have all fictionalized their memoirs, which now means she is held culpable and will lose her income. Divorced Annie has a job as a library researcher but she is bored and lonely, her two boys distant and grown. Both sisters decide to sublet their apartments in order to join their grieving mother in Westport.
Thus, the three Weissmann’s come to live in Westport, to start their lives anew. Nothing is easy and the real world often knocks at their door. Betty copes only by pretending that her beloved husband has died, carrying like a widower. Miranda takes long walks and searches for herself, as only bankruptcy can make one do. And, Annie silently pines after an obtuse poet, while trying to manage the spending habits of her Mom and sister. Together the three Weissmann’s learn how to survive in a world that is dark and stormy, and full of the unexpected.
The Three Weissmann’s of Westport has been strongly compared to Sense and Sensibility, something I cannot comment on at this time, as my Jane Austen reading has gone by the wayside recently…
I did like the blunt, straightforward writing in the novel, the factual story-telling, the very real characters. This novel would work wonderfully for a book club or for a travel/beach read.
Available in trade paperback The Three Weissmann’s of Westport was written by Cathleen Schine and is 292 pages.
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