Englischsprachige Literatur

Schine Cathleen

The three Weissmans of Westport

Sarah Crichton Books, New York 2010


Cathleen Schine (born 1955) is a renowned American writer and literary critic for the New York Times. In her latest “domestic comedy” she tries hard to write a modern day “Sense and Sensibility”. But the comparison with the acerbic wit and thorough insight of Jane Austen does not do well for Schine.

It all starts with 75-year-old Betty being thrown out of her beloved and elegant New York apartment by her no longer husband Joseph, 78, who has found  new love with his ambitious secretary Felicity. Her brother Frederick, a well-known author, is the secret love of Annie, elder daughter of Betty and librarian (sense). The sensibility-part is played by Miranda, eccentric misery memoir publisher. After a disastrous TV show, Miranda´s literary agency is falling to pieces.

So the three Weissmanns have to accept the offer of wealthy Cousin Lou and move into his beach cottage in Westport. The only income is provided by poor Annie, who also is the only one to worry about money matters. Betty is in mourning, pretending her husband of 48 years died, which I think is about the only surprising and sweet element in an otherwise rather foreseeable plot.

Schine writes elegantly, seems to be caring for every one of her main characters, but for the reader they are all just bookish figures in a closed Jewish cosmos.