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What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

What I Loved (2003)

by Siri Hustvedt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,048453,255 (3.92)133
  1. 10
    The shaking woman, or, A history of my nerves by Siri Hustvedt (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: both look into mental illnesses, but more important to me: both stress ambguity.
  2. 00
    By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: vie d'un galeriste d'art à New York
  3. 00
    The Art of Murder by José Carlos Somoza (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: commentaire sur l'art qui enfreint les règles de la moralité

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English (35)  French (4)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
As an old man, partially blind, the retired art historian Leo Hertzberg looks back upon his marriage to Erica, his experience of fatherhood and above all his long friendship with artist Bill Weschler, Bill's first wife Lucille and second wife Violet, and his son Mark. From the early days of Bill's career (when Leo bought the first of his paintings) to the time when Bill is the darling of the art world (at least in Europe if not quite in New York) the families are close. The Weschlers even move in to the apartment above the Hertzberg's, and the closeness is further emphasized when their two baby boys are born within a few weeks of each other.

Much of the first part of the book chronicles Leo and Bill's growing friendship, the breakdown of Bill's first marriage to Lucille and subsequent marriage to Violet and detailed descriptions of Bill's art and Violet's study of the perception of hysteria in nineteenth century women. But at the start of Part Two a family tragedy occurs which throws the comfortable life of the couples into disarray, and which influences their lives for the remainder of the book.

I have to say that I didn't really enjoy this book at all. I didn't find the general depiction of the New York art world at all appealing, and the specific depictions of Bill's art were tedious and far too lengthy. And I didn't really care about or believe in any of the characters. Bill in particular is supposed to be a charismatic character ('Bill had glamour - that mysterious quality of attraction that seduces strangers' and when Leo was introduced to him he 'felt like a dwarf who had just been introduced to a giant'), but I certainly didn't think that this magnetism was conveyed to the reader. As the book develops it seems to develop more of the characteristics of a psychological thriller, raising certain expectations about how the rest of the book will develop, but then seems to lose these again so the expectations are dashed.

I would probably not have finished this book if it hadn't been my next RL book club choice. To be honest I'd doubt if I'd have got beyond page 10 or so. ( )
3 vote SandDune | Oct 3, 2014 |
As fine a book as I have ever read. Beautifully written with intriguing characters and a solid, slice of life storyline. ( )
  DougJ110 | May 8, 2014 |
Argh...another book I thought I'd like a lot more than I did. First, I thought it was too many things at once: exploration of visual art and its meaning + psychological thriller + intellectual literary fiction. I found the portions that dealt with the underbelly of the 90s rave scene to be the weakest and the least connected to the rest of the book.

I also felt like the narrative voice was slightly off, in that Leo was not believable to me as a man. I felt like I could tell he was being written by a woman.

My last complaint is that there was so much focus on exactly how the paintings looked. Books are not a visual medium, and I thought it was a bit of a waste spending that many pages describing how the pictures looked Just So. Maybe this comment reveals that I just didn't get the point, I don't know. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
Tried to read this on the recommendation of a friend..... got at lest half way but found it way too depressing, didn't finish. ( )
  Fliss88 | Oct 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Siri Hustvedtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Yesterday, I found Violet's letters to Bill.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312421192, Paperback)

What I Loved begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo's story, which spans twenty-five years, follows the growing involvement between his family and Bill's--an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men, their wives, Erica and Violet, and their sons, Matthew and Mark.

The families live in the same New York apartment building, rent a house together in the summers and keep up a lively exchange of ideas about life and art, but the bonds between them are tested, first by sudden tragedy, and then by a monstrous duplicity that slowly comes to the surface. A beautifully written novel that combines the intimacy of a family saga with the suspense of a thriller, What I Loved is a deeply moving story about art, love, loss, and betrayal.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Story begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work and tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo's story spans twenty-five years and follows the evolution of the growing involvement between his family and Bill's--an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men their wives, Erica and Violet and their children, Matthew and Mark. Over the years, they not only enjoy love but endure loss.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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