I need to parse a tab delimited text file of several thousand lines.  The first part is easy;

cut -f8 file

field 8 of this file contains multiple, variable length, sentences enclosed in double quotes.  Example returned by the cut command above:

"this is sentence one. this i sentence two.  this ""is a quote that may be"" in sentence three."

I need to grab the first sentence for further processing (without the period, without the beginning quote mark) into a variable, but am having difficulty. Can anyone suggest an easy way to do this?  I'm open to bash,perl,python solutions, but prefer bash.

TIA,
dan