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The Middlesteins Audio CD – Audiobook, 12 Feb 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 6 pages
  • Publisher: Audiogo; Unabridged edition (12 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619695413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619695412
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,274,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

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 the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A moving, hilarious, and deeply perceptive novel of universal themes: family, love and greed. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bored couldn't see where it was going. Didn't feel anything for the characters- tried to persevere but life's too short to waste on a dull dull book
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The reviews made me think I would love this but by and large I jus didn't like the characters so didn't really care about what happened in the book. Disappointing
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not going to write a long synopsis but I will say that I loved this book.
It made me laugh out loud in recognition and it made me cry as well. It is truly
a lovely and sad family story. I only wish I had the Kindle version so that
I could highlight all my favourite lines.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved this book which explores the paradox of the desire to nourish our relatives and the adverse effects that can arise when this is done to excess. At the centre of the story is 60 year old Edie who has been retired from her work in a Chicago law firm because of her excessive weight. Edie is literally eating herself to death, suffering from severe diabetes and other related illnesses. Retirement has not brought her any sense of needing to get a grip on her eating habits, but rather the opposite: increased opportunities to gorge herself on sandwiches, crisps and biscuits. Soon she is a regular customer at a nearby Chinese restaurant, compounding her problem and her rapidly expanding girth leads her husband to file for divorce.

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.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Middlesteins, an American family, are the heart of this book. Mrs Middlestein has a problem with food, she is eating herself to death, Mr Middlestein who wants to leave her because he doesn't want to watch her eat herself to death and their children and grand children. I found the characters to be too much - they were over the top and too overbearing for me. It is one of those books you either like or dislike and I definitely disliked.
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By L. H. Healy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 April 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'When she was engaged, she could make anything happen. When she was sad, and she had been so much lately, she could do nothing but eat.'

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.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Middlesteins is primarily about obesity and Edie Middlestein's obsession with food. Edie has a life threatening medical condition as a result of her weight, and her husband, Richard, and adult children, Robin and Benny, fear for her future.

The book alternates between the present and the past and begins with Edie as a small child; she is obviously very bright and precocious. Edie becomes an educated, successful adult yet her inability - or refusal - to combat her overeating is the focus of the family drama.

It is hard to categorize this book, it's a family saga yet explores much wider issues about modern society. There are some very sad and pathetic parts in the book and others, which are hilarious - Benny's stick-thin wife is a total control freak and is a stark contrast to Edie.

The writing is concise yet characters are fully portrayed; even minor personalities are described so well that you can almost visualize them. I also learned a little about Jewish culture - there's a wonderful scene where Edie and Richard's twin grandchildren have their B'nai Mitvah party.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the narrative flowed easily and each chapter contained bittersweet scenes that left me wanting more.
I understand that The Middlesteins was chosen by Radio 4 as their Book at Bedtime. Based on this book, I am going to read more by Jami Attenberg.
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