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Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet…
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Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

by Ayelet Waldman

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I thought Waldman portrayed well the grief of a new mother who has lost her child and the evolving stepmother relationship with her husband's precocious preschooler. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Ayelet Waldman is so on the money. She's top notch with this book. This book is a hands-down winner for anyone who has ever tried to worm one's way into a young child's heart and is not that child's parent. As a babysitting grandmother who also picks up a young boy from school as well as one who has also innocently tripped and caused her own young charge to fall down suddenly and violently, I empathized immensely with Emelia, the wife of Jack who is five-year-old William's dad. I, too, once had been the object of resistance in my early babysitting days when my grandson told his mom he didn't want to have fun with me on his babysitting days.

I don't approve of Emelia's affair with Jack but that was already a given part of this novel which I couldn't change. All I can say is that I totally loved reading about what hard work it is to earn that deep love a young child has to offer a non-parent adult. Once it's there, it will never go away. What a great book!

He is so smart, we say wordlessly. And such a little know-it-all. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Dec 26, 2015 |
Emilia was a young lawyer in a prestigious law firm when she started her affair with Jack (partner in the firm), who then left his wife and son to marry Emilia. The story begins soon after Emilia's infant has died and she is deeply depressed about the loss of her child and struggling in her role as the stepmother to Jack's highly intelligent 5-year-old boy, Will. Emilia is, of course, hated by Will's mother, who is overly focused on the tiny details of Will's care. Jack is stuck in the middle between Emilia's depression and her young stepmother frustrations and his ex-wife. At first, it is hard to like Emilia, as she is unhappy and short-tempered with Will. But over time, Emilia begins to make tiny shifts in her efforts to bond with Will and when this occurs, the story gradually becomes more heartwarming. It is relatively easy to see the story from multiple perspectives and the characters richly described. I really enjoyed this novel and felt very attached to the main character by the end. ( )
  voracious | Apr 6, 2014 |
Good book (thanks Aimee) about loss and love family set in NY. ( )
  amybrojo | Aug 21, 2011 |
Loved the little boy. Not sure I enjoyed the adults.
  shazjhb | Nov 16, 2010 |
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To my parents,
Ricki and Leonard Waldman
First words
Usually, if I duck my head and walk briskly, I can make it past the playground at West Eighty-first Street. I start preparing in the elevator, my eyes on the long brass arrow as it ticks down from the seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth floor. Sometimes the elevator stops and one of my neighbors gets on, and I have no choice but to crack the carapace of my solitude, and pretend civility. If it's one of the younger ones, the guitar player with the brush of red hair and the peeling skin, say, or the movie executive in the rumpled jeans and the buttery leather coat, it's enough to muster a polite nod of the head. The older ones require more. The steel-haired women in the self-consciously bohemian dresses, folds of purple peeping from under the hems of black wool capes, demand conversation about the weather, or the spot of wear on the Oriental carpet runner in the lobby, or the front page of the arts section. That is quite nearly too much to bear, because don't they see that I am busy? Don't they realize that obsessive self-pity is an all-consuming activity that leaves no room for conversation? Don't they know that the entrance to the park lies right next to the Eighty-first Street playground and that if I am not completely prepared, if I do not clear my mind, stop my ears to all sounds other than my own breathing, it is entirely possible--likely even--that instead of striding boldly past the playground with my eyes on the bare gray branches of the trees, I will collapse outside the playground gate, the shrill voices of the children keening in my skull? Don't they understand, these ladies with their petitions and their dead banker husbands and bulky Tod's purses, that if I let them distract me with talk of Republicans stealing elections or whether Mrs. Katz from 2B saw Anthony the new doorman asleep behind the desk last Tuesday night, I will not make it past the playground to the refuge of the park beyond? Don't they get that the barbaric assault of their voices, the impatient thumping of their Lucite canes as they wait insistently for my mumbled replies, will prevent me from getting to the only place in the entire city where I am able to approximate serenity? They will force me instead to trudge along the Seventy-ninth Street Transverse, pressed against the grimy stone walls, inhaling exhaust fumes from crosstown buses all the way to the East Side. Or worse, they will force me to take a cab.
Quotations
William is five years old, and sometimes sounds like a very small sixty-two-year-old man.
I had learned while still in law school that style, though it could not entirely substitute for adequate research and a sophisticated grasp of the law, could make the difference between a winning argument and one that put the judges to sleep.
Experiencing rich people of all colors is not experiencing diversity. (Emelia)
The napkins are pink, made of some remarkable polyester that repels water.
He is so smart, we say wordlessly. And such a little know-it-all.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385515308, Hardcover)

With wry candor and tender humor, acclaimed novelist Ayelet Waldman has crafted a strikingly beautiful novel for our time, tackling the absurdities of modern life and reminding us why we love some people no matter what.

For Emilia Greenleaf, life is by turns a comedy of errors and an emotional minefield. Yes, she’s a Harvard Law grad who married her soul mate. Yes, they live in elegant comfort on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But with her one-and-only, Jack, came a stepson—a know-it-all preschooler named William who has become her number one responsibility every Wednesday afternoon. With William, Emilia encounters a number of impossible pursuits—such as the pursuit of cab drivers who speed away when they see William’s industrial-strength car seat and the pursuit of lactose-free, strawberry-flavored, patisserie-quality cupcakes, despite the fact that William’s allergy is a figment of his over-protective mother’s imagination.

As much as Emilia wants to find common ground with William, she becomes completely preoccupied when she loses her newborn daughter. After this, the sight of any child brings her to tears, and Wednesdays with William are almost impossible. When his unceasing questions turn to the baby’s death, Emilia is at a total loss. Doesn’t anyone understand that self-pity is a full-time job? Ironically, it is only through her blundering attempts to bond with William that she finally heals herself and learns what family really means.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"With wry candor and tender humor, acclaimed novelist Ayelet Waldman has crafted a novel for our time, tackling the absurdities of modern life and reminding us why we love some people no matter what." "For Emilia Greenleaf, life is by turns a comedy of errors and an emotional minefield. Yes, she's a Harvard Law grad who married her soul mate. Yes, they live in elegant comfort on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But with her one-and-only, Jack, came a stepson - a know-it-all preschooler named William who has become her number one responsibility every Wednesday afternoon. With William, Emilia encounters a number of impossible pursuits - such as the pursuit of cab drivers who speed away when they see William's industrial-strength car seat and the pursuit of lactose-free, strawberry-flavored, patisserie-quality cupcakes, despite the fact that William's allergy is a figment of his over-protective mother's imagination." "As much as Emilia wants to find common ground with William, she becomes completely preoccupied when she loses her newborn daughter. After this, the sight of any child brings her to tears, and Wednesdays with William are almost impossible. When his unceasing questions turn to the baby's death, Emilia is at a total loss. Doesn't anyone understand that self-pity is a full-time job? Ironically, it is only through her blundering attempts to bond with William that she finally heals herself and learns what family really means."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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