Author: Cathleen Schine

Publisher: Picador: A Sarah Crichton Book

ISBN: 978-0-374-29904-0

Click Here To Purchase The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel

Having never read books by Jane Austen, I can’t make the same comparisons that other reviewers have about Cathleen Schine’s The Three Weissmanns of Westport. What I can say about it, though, is that it is a thoroughly enjoyable read that engaged my interest from the start. I couldn’t wait to discover the resolution of such an unusual beginning, where Joseph Weissmann files for divorce after 48 years of marriage, when he is 78 and his wife, Betty, is 75.

The story draws on the reactions to and the resilience of the family members affected by the impending divorce. When Betty’s two daughters decide that they and their mother should move in together, the three find their lives mirroring one another in unexpected ways. From thinking they are three women bound together only out of necessity, they experience a commonality in their broken hearts, although they don’t initially recognize it.

This is not to say that the entire story is a romantic drama. Far from it! Schine is masterful in the art of subtle humor, sprinkling it generously about, especially in the Jewish wisdom of Joseph, Betty, and Cousin Lou.

Schine’s ability to tell the story of a family in the midst of life-altering upheavals is enhanced by her remarkable character development. I felt I knew the characters well, and was caught up in their stories so thoroughly that they almost became people who lived next door. When there is conflict that creates the drama, the author makes credible reasons for their reactions so that even when they seem to act slightly out of character, I felt I understood why.

The strongly painted characters allowed me to love some and detest others. My favorite in the detestable category was Felicity, whose sly, conniving ways are at the crux of the family’s upheaval. The author skillfully portrays her in a silky smooth, serpent-in-the-garden manner. Her guile comes across so well in the writing that at times I just wanted to slap one of the women and ask them, “Don’t you see what she’s doing?”

Schine also does a great job of intertwining several story lines so that the overall book has interesting layering. She achieves this seamlessly with plausible transitions between what might appear to be implausible occurrences. I admire the kind of writing skill that allows an author to weave common threads with disparate notes to reach unexpected outcomes that are satisfying. The plot turns that result in everyone getting their due definitely make for a very satisfying ending!

Click Here To Purchase The Three Weissmanns of Westport: A Novel