Jane Austen in Boca: A Novel

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9780312290887: Jane Austen in Boca: A Novel

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a nice Jewish widower must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen centered her classic novels of manners around "three or four families in a country village." So does Paula Marantz Cohen in her novel, a witty twist on Pride and Prejudice--except this time, the "village" is Boca Raton, Florida.

Eligible men, especially ones in possession of a good fortune and country club privileges, are scarce. When goodhearted meddler Carol Newman learns that the wealthy Norman Grafstein has lost his wife, she resolves to marry
him off to her lonely mother-in-law, May.

The novel charts the progress of May's love life as well as that of her two closest friends: the strong-minded former librarian Flo Kliman and the flamboyant Lila Katz. If there weren't confusion enough, Flo's great-niece Amy, a film student at NYU, suddenly arrives with a camera crew determined to get it all on tape.

Will May and Norman eventually find happiness? Will Flo succumb to the charms of the suavely cosmopolitan Mel Shirmer? Will Amy's movie about them win an Academy Award--or at least a prize at the NYU student film competition?

Complications and misunderstandings abound in this romantic and perceptive comedy of manners.

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About the Author:

Paula Marantz Cohen is Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, and her in-laws live in Boca Raton, Florida. Her previous non-fiction books include Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth and The Daughter as Reader: Encounters Between Literature and Life. This is her first novel.

From Publishers Weekly:

The Bennett daughters are recast as elderly Jewish widows in this amusing, kvetchy take on Pride and Prejudice. May Newman, a sweet, gentle woman in her 70s, is happily settled at the Boca Festa retirement community in Boca Raton, Fla., where she enjoys the companionship of her best friends, Lila Katz, a pragmatic redhead in search of a well-to-do husband, and Flo Kliman, a sharp-tongued retired librarian. May's pleasant daily routine is disrupted when her matchmaking New Jersey daughter-in-law visits and introduces May to recently widowed Norman Grafstein, a particularly eligible senior. Despite herself, May finds she enjoys Norman's company, but Flo takes an instant dislike to Norman's best friend, cranky English professor emeritus Stan Jacobs. The plot unfolds in ways predictable to those familiar with Pride and Prejudice (or any of its many adaptations), enhanced by Cohen's near-sociological scrutiny of life in Boca Raton. Cohen (whose mother-in-law lives in Boca) has a sharp eye for details like its residents' favorite colors (pink, turquoise and gold), preferred shopping destination (Loehmann's) and favorite movie (Schindler's List). The Austen parallels are cleverly drawn and culminate in a class on Pride and Prejudice offered by Stan, who discovers that the Boca Festa women identify with the meddling Mrs. Bennett rather than heroine Elizabeth. The humor may be of the Borscht Belt variety ("she would find May Newman a husband or plotz"), but it will be thoroughly appreciated by the snowbird set.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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