Q&A with Cathleen Schine discussion

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Q&A with Cathleen Schine, March 15-22

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message 1: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen Schine (cathleenschine) | 7 comments Mod
I'll be answering your questions for a week or so, post them here!


message 3: by Elaine (last edited Mar 17, 2010 05:13PM) (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 2 comments Why do you want trivia about Jane Austed? She painted on a small palette, so there's plenty of trivia, but, it seems to me, that what makes her so important as a novelist is that she works with the everydayness of life to make larger points about the society of her time. Insofar as the issues then still are issues today, she is still relevant, but not because you know who rode in a Barouche Landau or whatever trivia you are thinking of.

Your new book takes off from Sense and Sensibility, but the problem for me was when S&S was written, the widow had no choice but to hope for the generosity of her family. Also, she was a widow and not a woman beng divorced by her husband. Widows don't have the same entitlements to being supported by a stepson that a divorcee does today if her husband wants to dump her. At the time of S&S, the plight of the widowed stepmother was real. The plight of Mrs. Weissman wasn't. Nowadays, in all states, women abandoned by their husbands have legal recourse: commmunity property. There is no way that Mr. Weissman could have gotten her out of the apartment and also failed to support her. Also, he ha no motivation to stop supporting her. He knew she had no source of income except him, and he wanted to stay friendly with the daughters. He knew his wife needed money to live on. I couldn't figure out why he was so stingy to her since he said he had no animus towards her.
Also, it seems to me that everyone knows enough to go see a lawyer to protect themselves even if they hate lawyers in general. (My husband is a divorce lawyer, so I know about such stuff.) The unreality of Mrs. Weissman's situation was a problem for me with the novel, but I did appreciate your wit and the story in general: the daughters and their problems, the cute little boy, the crazy aunt, and, of course, the sensible man who solves all their problems. I think I especially liked the sister who had no children falling in love, so to speak, with the child. In essence, she ends up falling in love with the mother of the child. Neat twist!!

I have read every one of your novels and am in awe of the variety of people and situations you craft into novels for Rameau's Niece to the Weissman's.


message 4: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 2 comments Reading over my previous post, it occurred to me you might thing I'm being hostile, not to mention obnoxious. Please don't take it that way. I am unforunately blunt, although I try not to be. I also do come out with what I think, but I am actually asking you why you presented Mrs. Weissman as if she had no options, when she did. Wouldn't it have been more realistic if Mr. Weissman had lost a bundle of money and tried to recoup by making his wife leave the apartment so he could try to sell it,, or something like that? In other words, he needed to have a reason to behave as he did, and the girl friend wasn't enough for me, unless you are trying to show him as being in his dotage. I understand this may be my lack of understanding or my own literalism that's at fault. I love the idea of doing what Austen did, but she worked with the realities of her time. (I'm an Austen buff -- I did my Master's thesis on her a long time ago.)


message 5: by Lashanae (new)

Lashanae | 1 comments Cathleen wrote: "I'll be answering your questions for a week or so, post them here!"

Hello Just wanted to say I loved the New Yorker it was excellent. I haven't had the chance to read your other books but i just can't wait. Ilove how each character comes to life and each one has some story, and how Beatrice helps her to meet all these interesting people.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanstokes) I always remember "The Love Letter",now I am very excited to read "The Weissmanns of Wesport"..BTW We had a small Bookclub here in Vt..When we read "The Love Letter" it was a perfect novel for all of us (4) 3 women,one man....Success ,Susan..Vt


message 7: by Cathleen (last edited Mar 20, 2010 05:42PM) (new)

Cathleen Schine (cathleenschine) | 7 comments Mod
Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you, Elaine. I think you have a totally legitimate complaint about Betty not listening to her lawyer, and perhaps no one you know would have behaved that way. But I think this really is a concern of our time, and it's actually what led me to write the book in the first place. For women of my mother's generation, who put their faith in their husbands and in the institution of marriage, when a husband leaves, especially on relatively friendly terms, it is sometimes extremely difficult for them even to take it in, much less react rationally. And I have seen women be squeezed not so much in the divorce as in the time before the divorce when the credit cards are cut off, the bank accounts are closed...these are women who never even thought about the credit cards or bank accounts. None of this makes sense to me, I would never get myself in that position, I always knew to keep money in my own name etc, but that has to do with my generation. For women in the late seventies and eighties, many of whom were dumped in their forties or fifties or sixties, there is real peril. And though Betty's predicament could have been avoided if she had been more prepared, she struck me as the kind of woman who would not have been prepared. I can see how this would grate on someone familiar with the laws designed to protect women, but I think women of that generation and even some of my generation (I'm 57) are still vulnerable in a way that echoes the vulnerability of the Dashwood women.


message 8: by Cathleen (last edited Mar 20, 2010 05:35PM) (new)

Cathleen Schine (cathleenschine) | 7 comments Mod
Hey, Lashanae, thank you. Do you by any chance have a dog?


message 9: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen Schine (cathleenschine) | 7 comments Mod
Thanks, Susan. Do you still have your book club? I wonder how The Three Weissmans would fare...


message 10: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen Schine (cathleenschine) | 7 comments Mod
I agree about the trivia, by the way, Elaine. I have reference books regarding 19th century language and objects, and I love to poke around in them, but the real importance of Jane Austen is the quotidian brilliance. If you go to the exhibit at the Morgan Library, by the way, there is a page of notes by Nabokov done in preparation for teaching Jane Austen at Princeton, I think. In the way that he did with even his own books, he very carefully drew the different kinds of carriages so that his class would get a sense of proximity and distance and the implications and meaning of who sat where. It can give you a deeper understanding of certain parts to know what was the expected behavior or dress or seating at the time. But I can never remember anything, so trivia for its own sake does not really interest me.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanstokes) Thank you for responding.I plan to read it,and get a few of us together who ,because your details and knowledge about families like the 'Weissmann's are so on Target,we know them,we can relate..being an Austen Fan,as well,it will be interesting to compare,but I usually do not read to compare..I wish you much success with the book..Have you ever been to The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center,Vt?A great fit for you..Thanks,Susan,Vt


message 12: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen Schine (cathleenschine) | 7 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Thank you for responding.I plan to read it,and get a few of us together who ,because your details and knowledge about families like the 'Weissmann's are so on Target,we know them,we can relate..bei..."

No, I've never been to The Northshire Bookstore, but I'm, so happy to hear of the existence of any independent bookstore! I really hope you guys like the book...


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanstokes) I think we will Cathleen..Will keep you posted..Here or on your website...rjjulia Bookstorei n Madison,Ct did have it on there site..I have some friends that live close by,and are always there..If you enjoy Linda Fairstein,she will be there March 25th..Do you list your schedule on your site? Susan Vt


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