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Jane Austen in Boca Hardcover – Nov 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312290888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312290887
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.8 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,077,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maxine Jaffa on 19 Sep 2010
Format: Hardcover
Paula Marantz Cohen has real talent. If you want a book that makes you smile, ponder about life, and have a good time don't hesitate to read this one!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 47 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely delightful 18 Oct 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a rare book in modern fiction. It has an elusive element that many authors seek but few attain: it has charm.
Jane Austen in Boca is a Pride and Prejudice novel set in a modern-day Jewish retirement residence in Boca Raton. Unlike many efforts to borrow Jane Austen's plot lines, this book successfully translates the plot into its setting. The characters are witty, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always interesting. Even though I knew perfectly well how it had to come out, I read as though I were in a genuine state of suspense. In other words, the book lured me into its world and into the minds of its characters with enormous success. If only life were really like this!
This book is a delightful read. It is elegantly written and beautifully paced. Without Jane Austen's acerbity, it was nonetheless both compelling and comedic (in the classical sense of the term). I look forward to more fiction from this author.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A satisfying and fast paced novel despite a predictable end 7 Dec 2002
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jane Austen's classic novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE begins with the oft-repeated line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Paula Marantz Cohen lets her readers know, right on the opening page, that she is of a similar mind. "Take it from me," the book opens, "A nice widower with a comfortable living can be nudged into settling down by a not-so-young woman who plays her cards right." Her debut novel, JANE AUSTEN IN BOCA, takes the action and gentle intrigue of Jane Austen's 18th century country gentry and schleps them all the way to a Jewish "retirement club" in Boca Raton, Florida. In this club, dogs wear embroidered jackets because in Boca "many dog owners feel their pets should be entitled to enjoy an accessory now and then." It is a sweet and gentle look into the lives and loves of some pretty hilarious senior citizens. I'm way under 70 and about as WASP-y as they come, but I still liked it.
The central plot of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE concerns the very British Bennet family's attempts to marry off their five daughters and all the subterfuge and machinations contained therein. The first two-thirds of Cohen's book borrows fairly heavily from Austen's classic. All the main characters are here. Elizabeth Bennet is now Flo Kliman, a retired University of Chicago librarian, while Elizabeth's sister Jane shows up as May Newman, a softhearted widow. Mrs. Bennet is turned into May's daughter-in-law Carol, a woman who "was constantly striving to improve the lives of those around her, whether they liked it or not." Carol believes May is depressed and needs some companionship, preferably of the Jewish widower variety. She, like Mrs. Bennet, hopes to help her mother-in-law snag a live one, whether May likes it or not.
The man for whom Carol sets her cap (a turquoise sequined cap, I'm sure) is Norman Grafstein, a fellow Boca resident and acquaintance from back home. The courtship of these two septuagenarians is, of course, not a smooth road --- nor is the improbable but inevitable romance that develops between May's friend Flo and Norman's friend Stan, the Elizabeth and Darcy of the book. In a portrayal of retired life that is neither overly sentimental nor tragic, Cohen allows her characters to be real people who enjoy and embrace life. The men, especially, view their retirement as a second youth. Feel free to insert your own Viagra joke here. The women form remarkably close friendships with each other --- and at times, it sounds more like they are all kids away at summer camp than in their "twilight years."
Like Jane Austen, Cohen has a flair for observations and dry humor. Carol, who is a force of nature, is seen by May as "the incarnation of a good fairy in the guise of a suburban yenta." On noticing another friend's "unusually extensive cleavage," Flo thinks, "breasts, beyond the age of forty-five, she took to be assets best kept under cover. Flo was distinctly in the minority among her peers in Boca Raton, however, where cleavage was as common as Bermuda shorts and often worn with them." Cohen's story is much less pointed than Austen's. Her characters may be fools, but they are well-meaning fools. The plot moves quickly, as one might expect with a novel that weighs in at only 258 pages, but one has plenty of time to get to know the characters and to root for them as they find much deserved happiness.
In EMMA, another of Jane Austen's classics, she writes, "Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced and the inconvenience is often considerable." Cohen must have taken this advice to heart, as the reader will probably see the end coming a mile away. It may be predictable and fluffy, but JANE AUSTEN IN BOCA is satisfying, like a nice chewy bagel or maybe some mandelbrot or some kugel or a sweet piece of rugelach. Maybe my next book should be a cookbook.
--- Reviewed by Shannon Bloomstran
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"Act English, Think Yiddish" 19 July 2005
By John T. Farrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her send-up of Pride and Prejudice, Paula Marantz Cohen, as one might expect, centers her novel on "three or four families in a country village." But in this case, the "country village" is Boca Festa, a retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida, and the "three or four families" are a trio of Jewish widows on the look-out for husbands to replace their departed mates. The result is a witty and penetrating first novel.

Flo Kliman is just what one would expect and wish Elizabeth Bennet to be in her new setting: wise-cracking, clear-headed, opinionated, and fiercely loyal to her two best friends, May Newman/Jane Bennet and Lila Katz/Charlotte Lucas. With an able assist from Carol Newman, May's daughter-in-law and a worthy successor to the harassed Mrs. Bennet, the novel charts the course of May's romance with Norman Grafstein, who plays Mr. Bingley to cranky Stan Jacobs' Mr. Darcy. Add to this mix the buffoon Hy Marcus as Mr. Collins and the smarmy Mel Shrimer as Mr. Wickham and you get one the most amusing novels I've read in awhile.

And like her predecessor, Miss Austen, Dr. Cohen provides an abundance of social commentary, both incisive and insightful. Very little escapes her discerning eye, from shopping mores to methods of parenting, anti-semitism to anglophilia, culinary tastes to gay rights, interior to landscape design, and senior hair styles to retirement couture. All this is served with such a mix of affection and acuity that it proves to be a very tasty dish indeed!

According to the dust jacket, Paula Marantz Cohen is Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University, a background I suspect gave rise to the ultimate chapter of the book, the raucous and unruly opening session of Stan Jacobs' senior enrichment course on "Jane Austen and Her Adaptors." Many in the class hasn't read the book, but were happy to plunge into a vehemently digressive discussion, thereby providing some astute alternate readings of Pride and Prejudice. Thoroughly familiar with male-dominated family businesses, these elderly burghers had no trouble accepting the entail on the Bennet estate. Coming from cultures where marriages were often based on familial considerations, they approved of Mr. Collins' generous proposal to Elizabeth, but thought Mary Bennet might have been a better choice for him. But most of all, they thought Mrs. Bennet was the real heroine of the novel and were impressed by her Herculean efforts at marrying off five daughters, especially that Elizabeth, who was just a little "too sarcastic" for their taste.

These are people for whom one wishes nothing but the best and who deserve all happiness. But you know they'll all make it in the end, because as Flo Kliman puts it: "Take it from me. A nice widower with a comfortable living can be nudged into settling down by a not-so-young woman who plays her cards right."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Funny, Fresh and witty take on Austen Adaptation 12 Aug 2005
By A. Woodley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jane Austen - recreated in the Jewish retirement community in Boca - or more precisely a retired version of Pride and Prejudice complete with a creaky Mr Darcy - I think Austen might have been amused.

I loved some of the particularly clever touches in it 0 such as in the matchmaker is no longer the mother (Mrs Bennet in P&P) but the daughter. And that the gloss and colour of a priveleged class that didn't have to work in the Regency/Georgian era, has been transposed to the gloss and colour of a priveleged class that doesn't have to work - only these are retired seniors living in gaudy Florida

I think it would work better if you know Pride and Prejudice and who doesn't since Colin Firth did his dash as Mr Darcy? But this is an adaptation rather than P&P directly transposed - but some of the humour has extra spice if you know the original. HOwever if you haven't read Austen don't let this put you off, it is witty and fun - and if you enjoy this then read austen next!

I loved this - it had some great moments in it and some genuinely laugh out loud moments. It was an adaptation which worked for me. I didn't want to put it down.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Structure and Style in Boca 29 Dec 2002
By Mark Greenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Cohen adapts Pride and Prejudice to the senior set living in Boca Raton with wit, a keen eye for manners and customs, and a great sense of the rhythms of language and life one encounters there. The characters show why Austen's observations about human nature are timeless, and Cohen embodies in them the qualities of the Bennett sisters, post-menopause. Most impressive is the novel's structure, which brings the characters together--and to some self-realizations--in a formal discussion of Austen herself in one of Boca's retirement communities. The book, while mildly, often hilariously satiric, brims with a generosity of spirit and deep understanding of the generation of septuagenarian Jews and their offspring. Satisfying reading for anyone who enjoys novels of manners, Jane Austen, or finely wrought observations of life in ethnic communities.
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