Once I began this one, I absolutely could not put it down. The author starts off with a bang as she reveals that Joseph is leaving his wife, Betty Weissman, after a long and seemingly happy marriage (from the wife's current perspective). Betty is 75 and so you can imagine her shock, especially since she is also left in dire financial straits.
I was intrigued and baffled about why anyone would decide to end a marriage so late in life. Yes, there is another woman (no spoilers here, that info comes early on), a woman who is scheming and completely opposite from her name (Felicity). Even so, seemed shocking that she could compete with Joseph's wife, a woman who comes across as zany, fun, and far more appealing than Felicity. From my viewpoint, this made Joseph come off as somewhat dense, with no insight into Felicity's clearly manipulative moves.
Anyway, after the marriage ends, Betty departs for Westport with her two daughters, having the good fortune to have a relative who provides her with a cottage. While the thought of a cottage at first seems romantic and attractive to Betty, the structure turns out to be in need of serious repair.
This one definitely came across as a comedy of manners, making it clear why it has been compared to the works of Jane Austen. However, it definitely has a modern spin. Each character is illuminated in detail and I found Betty's daughters to be as intriguing as Betty herself. One daughter, Miranda, is a literary agent who trusted her instincts when it came to choosing authors - but, as it turns out, many of those authors made up their memoirs. Miranda lands on Oprah to defend herself (I couldn't help thinking of the whole mess involving James Frey, his book (A Million Little Pieces) and how he also appeared on Oprah with Nan Talese, trying to defend his own fictionalized memoir. In Miranda's case, however, she has several writers who have made up their memoirs. She is being sued. Her accounts have been frozen. This makes it very "convenient" (also known as having few other choices) for her to move in with her mother. She is even happy about the whole thing.
But the other daughter, Annie, is far less open to the whole idea. She loves her mother, though, so she goes along with it. This is when things take a stronger Jane Austin turn. Sure, there have been similar updates on the whole Austin genre or style but this one stands out. Even when I thought things were going to take a predictable spin, I'd be surprised. Events truly ramp up as the book reaches its conclusion. This is not a simplistic book, although I found it moved along at a rapid pace, but with the details that kept it from being too bland. It is the kind of book that begs to be read with a box of chocolates or fine cup of coffee or tea nearby. A glass of wine and comfy shawl or blanket would be the ideal additions for settling down for a nice afternoon of reading. But be forewarned- you won't want to come up for air, make dinner, or do anything but keep reading. So order takeout or have another family member handle the chores for the day. This one is definitely worth the time!
And yes...I ordered more of this writers' books. Reading this was like discovering a new friend, one who opened new worlds for me.