Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Middlesteins - Jami Attenberg

'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.

'Food was a wonderful place to hide.'

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.

Thanks to Amazon Vine for the review copy.


  1. The way we as Americans view and use food really is a bit frightening - sounds like a difficult yet pretty interesting read.

  2. This does sound like an interesting plot indeed.

    Turning to food to deal with life's challenges is something that I understand and it really can create an entirely new set of challenges.

  3. I really liked this book. I wonder how it compares to Lionel Shriver's Big Brother which deals with some of the same issues. I definitely plan to read more by Attenberg.

  4. Interesting and especially so given that most books brave enough to raise food related issues are about those with anorexia.


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