Jenny Jackson’s ‘Pineapple Street’ is a 1% comedy


There are the rich and there are the very rich, and while the very rich show varying demographics, the family at the center of Jenny Jackson’s bubbly debut novel, “Pineapple Street“, is of a very specific kind: the WASP of Brooklyn, who never touches the trust fund, who plays tennis and who has money.

This isn’t your sweetheart’s Brooklyn, or your hipster Brooklyn, or your hour-long bus ride from JFK and crashing on your third cousin’s couch in Brooklyn. The Stockton family – large-scale real estate investors – live in the quaint and leafy “fruit streets” section of historically preserved Brooklyn Heights: “Three small blocks of Pineapple, Orange and Cranberry streets located on the cliff above the front of sea.

Tilda and Chip have owned their beloved Limestone for some forty years, and he plays such a central role in this novel that he’s a character in his own right, with his velvet window treatments, its overstuffed closets and vaguely Dickensian furnishings, including a noisy grandfather clock and possibly bug-infested antique sofa.

The couple decide to downsize but don’t want to sell their house. So they invite their son, Cord, and his wife, Sasha, to move into the house, the incident prompting this 1 percenter comedy.

The young couple may be living rent-free, but the arrangement comes at an emotional cost, at least for Sasha, who has little to say when it comes to disposing of one of the objects in the house. overloaded house. She can’t even reconfigure the master bedroom closet without her mother-in-law pushing it away, giving her opinion on how best to store “out-of-season shoes, hats, anything with an edge you don’t want. not overwrite”. Sasha and Cord even sleep on her parents’ four-poster bed, where “it was extremely difficult for Sasha to orgasm while the mahogany headboard that probably belonged to a congressman or transportation secretary knocked against the wall”.

Tilda isn’t the only one too fond of the place – Stockton’s other two children, Darley and Georgina, grew up there, and their rooms remain full of old textbooks, photo albums, tennis trophies and of school projects, including “an ashtray Darley made in sixth grade that looked like a malformed mushroom.

The two sisters nicknamed Sasha, who comes from a middle-class family and who they say refused to sign a prenuptial agreement, the gold digger; the GD, for short.

Meanwhile, Darley grapples with her own family issues. Her Korean American husband, Malcolm, has just lost his job with Deutsche Bank’s Aviation Group. Again with the prenups: Darley didn’t ask Malcolm to sign one, so she was cut off from his inheritance, which will now skip a generation and go straight to their children. Now that Malcolm is out of work and Darley quit his job at Goldman Sachs to stay home with the kids, they’re headed for a financial crisis.

Georgiana is the most complicated of the group. At 26, she’s a well-made, often hilarious and unsettling millennial who says things like, “Oh, no! I left my Cartier bracelet in Lena’s BMW and she’s leaving soon for her grandmother’s house in Southampton! Georgiana’s world is so insular that although she works for a non-profit organization focused on health care in developing countries, she doesn’t know the UAE is a country.

A traumatic event involving her messy love life prompts Georgiana to try to part with her fortune. “It was the money that made her so horrible,” she thinks. “It had pampered, spoiled and ruined her.” But donating all of her $37 million will be more complicated than she imagined.

That the book is intelligent and closely observed, peppered with little gems, should come as no surprise: Jackson is vice president and editor at Knopf and has worked with a long list of top authors.

As the story unfolds, with the Stocktons hosting dinner parties, attending glamorous fundraisers, and playing numerous games of tennis, longtime housekeeper Berta cooks, cleans, and cleans. the tables in the background. As for Berta, we never learn much about her or what she might think of the exploits of this family. Jackson didn’t come here to extort the 1%, but I wondered what this novel might look like through Berta’s lens. Well-observed anglers will have fun; class warriors might look elsewhere.

Susan Coll’s most recent novel is “bookish people.”

Books by Pamela Dorman/Viking. 304 pages. $28

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