Monday, January 31, 2011

The Three Weissmann’s of Westport by Cathleen Schein

The Three Weissmann’s of Westport by Cathleen Schein is engaging right from the first page. The emotional tow between the sisters, one no-nonsense in the extreme and the other erratic remind me of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and easily translate into any era.
This setting is twenty-first century, and in this novel, those sisters are contemporary New Yorkers, as is their mother, Betty. And while the sisters fill their roles quite enjoyably, Betty’s component is more multifaceted.
Joseph Weissmann divorced his wife Betty under the irreconcilable differences excuse when he was seventy-eight years old and she was seventy-five. Betty was flabbergasted and confused. She really did not see this coming.
Of course the involvement of another woman was discovered. The tale of the dissolution of a long marriage could be exceptionally miserable, but Schine handled the subject with tenderness. Her take on the painful circumstances is dead-on in appearance at the emotional, financial, irreparable cost of Joseph’s words and actions.
Betty and her grown daughters Annie and Miranda find comfort in one another. The daughters leave their own apartments when Betty is forced to leave her on Central Park West at the insistence of the other woman.
The three women find sanctuary in a rundown cottage in Westport, CT. The place is owned by Betty’s peculiar relative, Lou.
This book touched me on many levels. Schine’s take on what constitutes a family strikes an approachable chord in the reader. She introduces new associations, a new way of life for her characters and she allows healing to happen over time. She also acknowledges that healing may never be complete. The book is well-worth the energy of reading it.

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