Marriage in the Suburbs

Francesca Segal, Jami Attenberg, Rebecca Abrams


Jewish Book Week presented two witty novels of marriage in the suburbs: in London’s Hampstead Garden Suburb, childhood sweethearts Adam and Rachel are set for a life of domestic bliss. In Chicago, Edie, matriarch of the Middlesteins, is eating herself to death and her family can’t stop her.

Francesca Segal discussed The Innocents with Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins. Positioned respectively at the start and end of a marriage, both these books look fondly at Jewish habits, from Friday night dinner to B’nai Mitzvah dance classes and what not to do in synagogue.

“A very modern, sassy, London story,” said Simon Sebag Montefiore of The Innocents. “The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages,” said Jonathan Franzen.

Francesca Segal

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her debut novel, The Innocents, won the Costa First Novel Award, the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the Sami Rohr Prize, and a Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, The Awkward Age (‘smart soulful and compelling’ Nick Hornby) was published in 2017. She lives in London with her husband and twin girls.

Jami Attenberg

Jami Attenberg is the author of two previous novels and a collection of short stories and is being published in Britain for the first time. She has written for The New York Times, Salon, and numerous other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Rebecca Abrams

Rebecca Abrams is an author, journalist and literary critic for the Financial Times.  She teaches creative writing at the University of Oxford and was writer-in-residence at Brasenose College, Oxford from 2017-20.  Her recent publications include The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 objects (Ashmolean Museum).