Tuesday, February 17, 2009
REVIEW: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
I'm having a difficult time reviewing this book because I feel that in no way will I do this beautifully written novel justice. What I Loved is told through the point of view of Leo, an art historian who befriends an artist, Bill in 1970s New York, and the relationships that Leo and Bill form over the span of 25 years with each other, their wives, their two boys. As tragedy strikes, the tone of the novels switches from that of a chronicle of relationships to a creepy psychological thriller.
I found Hustvedt's writing style to be very similar in tone and the themes covered to her husband, Paul Auster: love, loss, identity, which added to my enjoyment of the novel. I thought that the four adults, Leo and Erica and Bill and Violet were utterly fascinating, cultured people and I wanted in on their inner circle as they discussed modern art, art history, literature, Violet's medical research. I loved the detail in which Bill's artwork is discussed and how it progresses throughout the novel, especially his fairy tale phase. Violet's research though is what stole the show for me. Eating disorders, hysteria, the decline of popular culture. I hung mesmerised by everything that Violet said or did.
I thought the second half of the novel was very subtle and disturbing. This slow feeling of creepiness and foreboding of what happens next left me unable to put this book down. Everything in this book felt authentic, real. I felt like I knew the characters in this book, I could relate to them, and as each event takes places I felt myself reeling by each loss, each betrayal. I will certainly be reading Hustvedt's other novels.