Jenny Jackson is a Vice President and Executive Editor at Alfred A. Knopf. A graduate of Williams College and the Columbia Publishing Course, she lives in Brooklyn Heights with her family. Pineapple Street is her first novel.
* Bio and picture by Penguin Random House
This unputdownable novel follows three women in an old Brooklyn Heights clan – one who was born with money, one who married into it, and one who wants to give it all away. Rife with the indulgent pleasures of life among New York’s one per centres – glittering parties, weekend homes, and hungover brunches – “Pineapple Street” sparkles with wit and wry humour.
For QBD Blog readers, Jenny tells us what inspired her to write “Pineapple Street” – Let’s dive in!
My little family of four spent much of the pandemic living with in-laws: my husband’s parents in Connecticut, and my parents in Massachusetts. It was amazing in ninety-nine ways—they helped with Zoom school and childcare, we had movie nights and long hikes in the woods—but it was also really funny to see how different our families of origin sometimes felt. I tease my in-laws about their plants (I think they must have two hundred plants in their house. They take pictures of them and call them their “grandbabies”) and I know my husband is mystified by my parents’ crazy art collection (they have tons of friends who are painters and some of their art is, admittedly, pretty weird). So, I wanted to write about that funny feeling of being an outlaw among your in-laws, that feeling that no matter how long you are married you’ll never really get the plant-thing or the naked-people-with-cats-art-thing—you’re never really one of them.
As I was hiding out in Connecticut, my good friend moved into her in-laws’ brownstone in Brooklyn Heights with her husband and baby. Her in-laws had moved out, but they had left all their belongings behind. So, she was trying to make it her home, but just surrounded by the detritus of her husband’s high school days, his sister’s old trophies, her mother-in-law’s closet of clothing. Her sister-in-law had even left her forty-year-old baby teeth in a drawer and my friend’s baby accidentally ATE them. As she told me about her living situation, I mentally started weaving together her story—the story of a Brooklyn home—with the story of a woman getting to know her new husband’s family.
Then, after we had moved back to Brooklyn, to our apartment on Pineapple Street, I came across a fascinating article in The New York Times by Zoë Beery called “The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism.” Beery writes about rich millennial heirs who believe capitalism is a crime and that inherited wealth is intrinsically immoral. These young billionaires are trying to give away their fortunes, much to the chagrin of their families. It got me thinking about what it might feel like for those families to have to examine their own privilege, about who might be capable of change and who might really struggle to question their deeply entrenched views of money.
Suddenly it all snapped together: The story of a family, an outsider married into great wealth and a home full of their fancy junk, an older sister struggling to reconcile her marriage with her money, and a younger sister—the Gen Z conscience of the book—rejecting the family inheritance and everything it means. Pineapple Street was born from these ideas, and of my love for my home in Brooklyn, and I had the most wonderful time writing it. I actually made myself laugh an embarrassing number of times at my keyboard and I hope readers get just as much joy out of reading it.