“The Three Weissmanns of Westport” by Cathleen Schine

Date finished: 15th February 2012

The second book on My Year With Jane Austen challenge was The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine which is a modern day tale inspired by Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The setting is Westport, Connecticut and is based around Betty, who finds herself newly single at 75 when her 78-year-old husband decided to divorce her, and in her reduced circumstances is forced to move out of her New York apartment and decamp to a house owned by her cousin in Westport. She convinces her middle aged daughters to sublet their apartments and move in with her through the divorce. Elder daughter, Annie, is a librarian while younger daughter, Miranda, is a literary agent.

The story follows fairly closely in theme to Sense and Sensibility, but I have to say, having just read that book, it was very slight in comparison, and I just didn’t find the same wit and sparkle that the original had. I found most of the characters very unsympathetic, and some of the minor characters felt like caricatures making it difficult for me to get emotionally involved in the book. I think this is the only modern day retelling of any of Austen’s books I have on my reading plan, and if this is anything to go by, I’m quite glad of that. It’s such a shame, as contemporary versions of her books in film have often been quite good (I love Clueless for example), but as a book, I just didn’t enjoy it.

Although nothing to do with the writing, I have one other criticism, and that was the Kindle formatting of this book. There were multiple instances of an R in the middle of sentences, an S at the beginning of a word, words where there was a space halfway through it, and hyphenated words which may have been words that had spanned lines in a printed form, but not in the digital form, all of which took me out of the writing every time I came across one. I’ve had free, self-published Kindle books with far fewer formatting errors than this book, so I wasn’t impressed by this at all.

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