Picks and Pans Review: Jane Austen in Boca

UPDATED 12/02/2002 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/02/2002 at 01:00 AM EST

by Paula Marantz Cohen

Page-turner of the week


"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife," wrote Jane Austen in the classic opening of Pride and Prejudice. Austen never schmoozed by the pool with a pack of bronzed yentas, but her Pride plot proves as durable as ever, even after being transplanted to Cohen's "surreal nirvana" of a Florida retirement community.

In this witty romp, widowed Jewish women and their extended kin fill in for the country families in Pride. Instead of silly Mrs. Bennet pushing daughter Jane at wealthy Mr. Bingley, suburban New Jersey supermom Carol Newman sets up her mother-in-law in Boca Raton with a retired leather importer. Breaking with Austen's storyline, Cohen has fun with the "group therapy session" in the communal changing rooms at Loehmann's, death by Viagra and a too-tan septuagenarian spearing a "cocktail shrimp the size of a tennis ball" at a Valentine's Day dance. (St. Martin's, $24.95)

BOTTOM LINE: What's not to like?

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