- Hardcover: 273 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (23 Oct. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1455507210
- ISBN-13: 978-1455507214
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,020,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Middlesteins Hardcover – 23 Oct 2012
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The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages (Jonathan Franzen)
Family ties are anything but simple, and the joy of this book lies in Attenberg's merciless, tender, often brilliantly funny peeling back of the layers of history. Sublime. (Kate Saunders Daily Mail)
Flows like double cream ... Like the best culinary confections, Attenberg's prose is complex, bitter as well as tender (Sunday Telegraph)
Blazing, ferocious and greathearted ... The Middlesteins will blow you away (Lauren Groff)
Attenberg makes her characters' thoughts - Richard and Benny in particular - seem utterly real, and her wry, observational humor often hits sideways rather than head-on ... [A] wonderfully messy and layered family portrait (Kirkus)
The Middlesteins, the novel, is great literature: warm, tragic, funny and deeply, complexly, entirely human. (Stefan Merrill Block)
This gem of a book is swift, moving and brutally honest, but it has a family-centric moral at its heart: Without family, we are nothing. (New York Post)
Attenberg is superb at mocking the cliches of middle-class life by giving them the slightest turn to make people suddenly real and wholly sympathetic. (Washington Post)
Attenberg evokes memorable moments of authentic sadness and tenderness while thoughtfully and comically examining the question of what we inherit from our families. In the case of the Middlesteins, it is many things, including their sometimes-enduring love for each other. (San Fransisco Chronicle)
Edie pulses with life no matter how close she seems to dying, and her character is emblematic of the tough compassion Attenberg exhibits throughout the novel. (Chicago Tribue)
The Middlesteins is a marvel. (Molly Ringwald)
The Middlesteins is an absolute pleasure. (Francesca Segal)
Attenberg has the Tolstoyan gift for creating life on the page. Sometimes all she needs to capture a soul is a couple of sentences. But the pleasure she takes in these people goes beyond compassion...When Attenberg shows us the world through their eyes, they're not just interesting and sympathetic; they're a treat to be with. (Business Week)
A wonderfully messy and layered family portrait. (Publishers Weekly)
The Middlesteins is a tender, sad and funny look at a family and their mother. In fact, it's so readable, it's practically edible. (NPR)
Throughout this poignant novel, the characters wrestle with two defining questions: What do we owe each other after a life together? What do we owe ourselves? (O Magazine)
The Middlesteins masterfully reveals the emotional landscape of one family's unusual connections and disconnections - and allows the hope that different connections may take place. Just another quirky family story? Anything but. (Shelf Awareness)
Kinetic with hilarity and anguish, romance and fury, Attenberg's rapidly consumed yet nourishing novel anatomizes our insatiable hunger for love, meaning, and hope. (Booklist)
Jami Attenberg has a gift for making you sympathize with each and every one of her characters. The result is a rich family portrait that's sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and gripping all the way through. The Middlesteins are every bit as complex and contradictory as your family, or mine. I'm still thinking about them long after I turned the final page. (J. Courtney Sullivan)
I couldn't help absolutely devouring The Middlesteins. This smorgasbord of a book about food, family, love, sex, and loss is like the Jewish The Corrections, yet menschier and with a heart-and it's hilarious! Also, it made me add more cinnamon to a pie I was baking. You'll understand why once you read it. (Jenna Blum)
The Middlesteins is a truly original American novel, at once topical and universally timeless. Jami Attenberg has created a Midwestern Jewish family who are quintessentially familiar but fiercely, mordantly idiosyncratic. This novel will make you laugh, cry, cringe in recognition, and crave lamb-cumin noodles. This is a stunningly wonderful book. (Kate Christensen)
A comedy of manners, its dark moments alleviated by small epiphanies and snatched moments of joy (Jewish Chronicle)
Attenberg writes well, with economy and a welcome lack of sentimentality (Financial Times)
Funny, eccentric ... warm and profound (Red)
Moving, hilarious (Observer)
This epic tale of marriage, family and addiction is full of humour and heart (Good Housekeeping)
Superb ... a great storyteller (Evening Standard)
A complex confection, bittersweet and tender (Sunday Telegraph 2013-09-22)
Superb ... Attenberg is a great storyteller (Scotsman 2013-10-18) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A moving, hilarious, and deeply perceptive novel of universal themes: family, love and greed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The Middlesteins, parents Richard and Edie, children Robin and Benny, and grandchildren Emily and Josh, live in Chicago and its northwest suburbs. Various people are in the Middlestein universe but Edie is the glue that holds the family together. She has has a larger-than-life personality as well as a voracious appetite for food. After 40 years of marriage and with many physical ailments that can be traced directly to her appetite, her husband Richard admits he cannot live with her anymore and leaves her. The separation tears apart a family already made up of fragile personal alliances. Their children both understand their father's position in an impersonal way, but can't countenance the decision on a personal level. The year of Richard and Edie's separation also has many other pivotal events, like the twins' bat and bar mitzvah, and Robin moving from friendship to romance with her friend, Daniel.
What makes the Middlestein family "tick" can be directly traced to Edie's over eating. Everyone is consumed by the food Edie consumes, and fat or think, weight is the on-going issue in the family. Eating at Edie's favorite Chinese restaurant by members of her family can be viewed by the sizes of the portions consumed.
Jami Attenberg is an excellent writer and does what few novelists do and that is they sort of "telegraph" future plot points in advance.Read more ›
A moving, tender and sad story of a family deeply worried about matriarch Edie who is eating herself to death and won't stop. It is a touching portrayal of the situation, with daughter Robin, son Benny and his wife Rachelle, who are trying to manage their own lives and feel the need to help their mother too, and deal with the fact that their father has left their mother whilst she is in a bad way. As well as the children and daughter in law, we see glimpses of Edie's past, her parents, and there are also chapters following what husband Richard is up to.
It’s a fairly short novel, which I liked in one way, yet as I found myself drawn into the story, I also found myself wondering about getting to know them all a bit more than the extent of the pages would allow. I liked how the author changed viewpoints and played with the narrative, and she also sneaked in some future details which was interesting.
It's a sad and true fact that many people turn to food as a comfort and an escape, and don't realise how bad the reliance is until the situation has become very bad sometimes. Jami Attenberg takes this modern day issue and has written a very readable, insightful, honest, at times heartbreaking novel around it, with a formidable woman in Edie, one who is interesting to get to know, and who evidently isn't going to be easy to help.
It soon became clear that The Middlesteins wasn't to my taste and under normal circumstances I would have given up on it after the first few chapters but, perhaps taking too much of the rave critical reviews, I always thought that it was bound to improve. It didn't. I would therefore suggest to anybody thinking of reading The Middlesteins that if they don't like it after 50 pages they should call it a day, because they almost certainly won't like it after 270 pages either.
This situation provides the author Jamie Attenberg with an opportunity to explore the various lives of this Jewish suburban family, which he does to spectacularly entertaining effect. For Edie may be the pivot of this story, but the other family members are equally interesting characters and Attenberg provides a wealth of fascinating topics as the family and those around them go through various episodes of a both comic and tragic nature.
Attenburg has created a tour de force of an evocation of a troubled Jewish family. I loved the way that the situation they find themselves in is explored through the individual voices of each family member and I cannot think of a book which has given me such a varied reading experience. A fantastic novel well worth it's many 5 star reviews.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a strange and unique story about a morbidly obese woman and the way her 'loved ones' relate to her. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Zoe
Attenberg is an interesting writer. She grew up in New York and has spent a lot of time amongst the Jewish men who started opening small neighbourhood stores and in the course of... Read morePublished 20 months ago by jkobi2011
this book was not great and i wish i did not read it it's long and struggles to make you want to read it.Published on 13 July 2014 by A. Patnett
I bought this book after hearing about it through the Waterstones Bookclub thing.
It had lots of elements that attracted me to it from the blurb however I was thoroughly... Read more
A perceptive look at a disfunctional family in contemporary USA. I found the break up of a long marriage and the unhappiness of all family members very sad.Published on 24 Mar. 2014 by Veronika Bernstein
Can't recall even reading it. So maybe get a sample first before buying it at full price. I just hope I don't inadvertently buy it againPublished on 2 Feb. 2014 by K. Law
I do object to having to write something after I have rated a product. I have expressed my opinion by rating it haven't I?Published on 8 Jan. 2014 by Mr. J. Biltcliffe