26 January 2011

Sense & Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge (2011) - The Three Weissmanns of Westport

Synopsis: Betty Weissmann's husband of 50 years decides to divorce her for a younger woman, so at 75 years-old Betty takes a house in Westport Conn., and her two grown daughters move in with her. Betty decides it's best to consider Joseph dead while he drags out the details of their divorce, "May he rest in peace." Both daughters have had their share of life and love, but handle things entirely differently. Annie is stable, worried about their steadily decreasing funds, and might be in love with the intelligent writer who is the brother of her father's new "friend." Miranda's publishing company is falling apart because she's published memoirs that were entirely made up (ring any bells) and she, again (!), falls head-over-heels for someone she's just met. Can these three women survive together and make a new family out of what is left?

Comments: Oh, the frailty of man - it makes for a universal study of how people act, interact, over react and cope with the changes, mostly unexpected, that life deals you. The Three Weissmanss of Westport was an interesting character study of a limited number of people most with very specific self absorbed motives. Loosely based on the themes of Sense & Sensibility, if you know that story there are some things that you see coming, but the book does not slavishly following the S&S story line so there are divergences along the way. There are some absolutely charming secondary characters, most especially Cousin Lou and Roberts, and some truly despicable characters, but I won't mention them by name as to avoid ruining some well written scenes of pettiness, peevishness and simple immaturity. The language to describe Westport and environs is clear and well conceived at least to the mind of someone such as myself that has no understanding of the coast unless it's on the western shore of England or the Gulf Coast of Florida. Perhaps someone with more intimate knowledge of the area would differ, but I get a sense of the place and that is important to me.

One description of the book calls it "the best tearjerker finale you're likely to read this year," (Publishers Weekly via Amazon), but I find that earlier parts of the books are way more tragic in a human way than the end. Sure the ending is sad-ish in a way, but no where near as devastating as the cruelty that befalls Betty, Annie and Miranda during the course of the few months of the divorce. This book is a journey for three women and those who interact in their lives. I enjoyed it greatly and highly recommend it whether you've read Sense & Sensibility or not. 
If you would like to see my posts while reading, please check out this post, this one, and this one.

1 comment:

  1. Hi JJ, Great review. This is a great study of how different personalities react to change and stress. Publisher's Weekly thought this a tearjerker ending? I found it the most perplexing part about the book. I am glad you enjoyed it. So did I, but with reservations.

    PS could you visit the challenge post and read my comment I left for you?


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