A serial novel series, The Happy Families Quartet explores the ways in which a close immigrant family - the mother is a German Christian, the father a Jewish New Yorker - act out all the complications of that closeness across a succession of family gatherings. The four novels will span five years of Essinger family life, concentrating in each novel on specific occasions or reunions. A Weekend in New York covers three days at the end of August 2011 when Paul, a tennis pro, has decided to retire after his final US Open. The Essingers gather in New York to watch him play. In the grip of a personal crisis, Paul finds his relationship to Dana, the mother of his two-year-old son, coming apart. He dreams of using his money to buy land outside Austin and building enough houses on it so that all of the Essingers can live together, as they used to, when they were kids - before (as he sees it) their lives took a turn for the worse. It will be published in March 2019, and Ben will attend Winter Institute. Christmas in Austin is set shortly after Obama wins reelection. The family meet again in Texas to celebrate the holiday. As they gather the reader witnesses the rifts in their children's personal lives. Paul has retired and begun to carry out his plan, only to find that nobody else will come with him . . . in particular his older brother Nathan, who has ambitions of playing his part in American public life, as a federal judge or political commentator. Liesel has invited Dana to Austin, hoping to bring her and Paul back together. But the experiment goes wrong, and Nathan is forced to step in - causing a rift between them that won't be resolved until the end of the third novel. Two Brothers begins four months later, in 2013, when Paul, restless and bored in retirement, has taken up running and enters the Boston Marathon. Nathan, by this time a First Circuit judge, eventually presides over the trial of the Tsarnaev brothers and receives death threats for one of his decisions in the case. For the first time, the Essingers have come into contact with the big historical events of the day - their isolation has been breached. At which point Paul, who was not hurt in the Boston attack, invites his brother to ride out the storm at his Texas ranch. The final novel, Funeral Arrangements takes place in the week after Trump's inauguration. Liesel is dying and the family (including Dana and her son), have gathered again to say goodbye. Liesel herself watches helplessly while the country in which she has made her home, slides into the kind of chaos she witnessed in Germany as a child. History is coming round again, and her children represent different answers to its challenge: Paul tries to win Dana back, to join him in the isolation of his ranch, while Nathan plans the next stage of his political resistance. At the heart of this narrative is the question - to what extent can family life insulate us from the big historical forces? Consider this, the serial novels that have become a phenomenon have seemingly come from nowhere, Ferrante, Knausgaard and Edward St. Aubyn. As varied as they are, the one characteristic they share is a close attention to domestic detail writ on a large scale, which is, I believe, a significant part of their appeal. Markovits writes with warmth and perception into the lives of fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, married couples and the single; proving it is not just trauma which sustains large-scale narrative but intimacy and even, possibly, contentment.