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.


  1. Oh my gosh it sounds fantastic! to the wish list it goes!

  2. Oh my, that sounds brilliant, and I can buy it here! Thanks for the review.

  3. I really like the sound of this one - will look out for it. Hope you have had a good weekend, I have bee away most of it. Now trying to catch up on everyone's blogs.

  4. Lovely review! I hope to get to this one this month...we'll see!

  5. Thanks for reminding me about Hustvedt. I read What I Loved a few years ago, and definitely loved it. Will have to go look out for her other books!

  6. Looks like an interesting book. I think I wanna check it out!

  7. Ha! I have not only this very same edition of the book on my shelf right here as I type but I also have a couple of Austers. Looking forward to them all before I read your review. Looking forward to this book even more now.


    PS - If I do read it and you notice that I've reviewed it and not linked to your review, send me a slap on the wrist ;-)

  8. This sounds like a really good book. I've only heard good things about it so I must check it out!

  9. Iliana - Hope you find it and enjoy it!

    Arukiyomi - I recommend Paul Auster to anyone! Looking forward to your reviews!

    Chloie - good for you!

    olduvai - you're welcome! I'm looking for her other books at the moment as well.

    Wendy - can't wait to hear what you think of it!

    Scrap Girl - it has been a busy week. I've fallen really behind with everything :(

    JJ - what luck :)

  10. Wow Michelle I don't know how you thought you coulnd't do the book justice, you have made it sound utterly amazing!

    I would add it to my reading list *but*

    im a bit scared of thriller stories! x


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