Jan 312011

Modernizing Sense and Sensibility is Currently All the Rage!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

With Cathleen Schine’s The Three Weissmann’s of Westport, Allegra Goodman’s The Cookbook Collector, and the recently released From Prada to Nada now in theaters, it would appear that modernizing Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and bringing it into the twenty-first century is currently en vogue. All of these titles are inspired by the same novel, yet each story is unique in its reincarnation and representation of Jane Austen’s classic themes and characters. In The Three Weissmann’s of Westport, Cathleen Schine focuses on the familiar tale of three women, in reduced circumstances, battling heartbreak and disappointment.

Instead of a widowed mother and her two young daughters, we are introduced to a soon-to-be divorced Betty Weissmann (age 75) and her two older, unmarried daughters Annie (age 52) and Miranda (age 49). After nearly fifty years of marriage, Joe Weissmann files for divorce because he has fallen in love with his secretary. His secretary, a conniving and manipulative Fanny Dashwood type, persuades him that the beautiful and grand Central Park West apartment would be too much of a burden for his ex-wife and convinces him to retain it for himself (for herself). And so, Betty, stripped of husband, home, and livelihood, relocates to a cottage in Westport, Connecticut. Miranda and Annie decide to sublet their apartments so they could move in with their mother and provide emotional and financial support. And thus, the adventure of three diverse women living under one roof begins…

I was impressed with Ms. Schine’s modern interpretation of Sense and Sensibility and greatly enjoyed searching for parallels with Jane Austen’s novel. I thought it was creative how Betty (Mrs. Dashwood) was forced to leave her home because of a divorce, not because of a will. I also liked how Miranda (Marianne) meets Kit (Willoughby) when he rescues her from a kayak misadventure. Another aspect I enjoyed was Ms. Schine’s representation of Jane Austen’s characters, although I’m afraid I enjoyed the minor characters more than the main ones. Even though Miranda and Annie exhibited many character traits similar to Marianne and Elinor, I didn’t find them very likable. I felt Ms. Schine’s best main character was Betty Weissmann, who closely mirrored Mrs. Dashwood in many ways. She was sensitive, dramatic, concerned for her daughters, and in possession of a hidden inner strength. Moreover, I enjoyed her little eccentricities like her weakness for infomercial products!

One aspect I that I wasn’t too fond of was the ages of all the characters. They were so very much older than Austen’s characters and I felt that their age was incongruous to their actions. For women in their fifties, they had pretty immature behavior. In addition, the age disparity between some the characters didn’t quite sit well with me. (A sixty year old and a twenty year old? Not very Austenesque.)

Another aspect of the novel that caused me some disappointment was the ending. Partly because there were some shocking alterations to the plot, and partly because I felt there were still some unresolved issues. Nonetheless, despite my grumblings, I found The Three Weissmanns of Westport to be an admirable and thought-provoking modernization of Sense and Sensibility, and I took pleasure in reading it!

Check Out: Cathleen Schine Facebook Page HERE


Thanks to the wonderful people at Picador I have one BRAND NEW COPY of THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT to give away!  (Apologies to my international friends, this giveaway is available to US residents only).

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment with your EMAIL ADDRESS below!

*To have your name entered twice, become a follower of my blog (if you are already a follower, please let me know)

**To have your name entered three times, post, sidebar, facebook, or tweet about this giveaway (please let me know if you did this).

This contest will end February 10th.   Good luck and thank you for entering!!!

This is my first completed item for the “Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge” hosted by Austenprose.

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  8 Responses to “The Three Weissmanns of Westport – Cathleen Schine + Giveaway!”


    I have this one on my “to read” list already, so it would be great to win it!

    (I am a follower!)


    Lovely review — thanks for your honesty. Initially I was quite impressed with the ages of the characters because I think there’s a sense that one can’t have love after a certain point — but your observation about their behavior not matching their age killed any excitement I felt. Alas!


    Meredith, we are two peas in a pod on this one. ;-)Thanks for the great review. No need to enter me in the contest, since I have my own copy. Cheers, LA


    I love Austen fan-fiction, but I have never read a Sense and Sensibility re-telling before and I would love to give it a try! My e-mail is liedermadchen@hotmail.com and I am a follower. 🙂


    I’m going through a Jane Austen phase (i.e. OBSESSION) to I’m really anxious to read this book! I’m already a follower of your blog and I intend to tweet this contest as well.



    What a lovely giveaway. The books sounds so good. I am a follower.


    This is on my TBR list. Enter me in the giveaway!


    Great giveaway! This book sounds very good!

    GFC follower

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

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