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What I Loved: A Novel by Siri Hustvedt

What I Loved: A Novel (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Siri Hustvedt (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,308633,960 (3.97)179
Title:What I Loved: A Novel
Authors:Siri Hustvedt (Author)
Info:Picador (2004), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (2003)

  1. 20
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (julienne_preacher)
  2. 11
    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.
  3. 01
    The Art of Murder by José Carlos Somoza (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: commentaire sur l'art qui enfreint les règles de la moralité
  4. 01
    By Nightfall: A Novel by Michael Cunningham (Cecilturtle, susanbooks)
    Cecilturtle: vie d'un galeriste d'art à New York
    susanbooks: Read Cunningham's novel instead. His is less pretentious, more character-driven, set in a similar NYC art world, and absolutely beautiful.

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» See also 179 mentions

English (49)  French (5)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
I found this book completely brutal to read. The first section is fine--to much 3D art talk for me, but whatever. Then the beginning of section 2 is just awful. AWFUL. And then section3 is just nonstop painfulness.

As the wife and mother of two teen boys, this all just hits on every fear a parent has. I have had 2 good friends of young kids widowed in the last 3 years. I have dealt with adult sociopaths in my life--I cannot even begin to imagine parenting one (though I can't imagine what the kids i knew dealt with in being the kids of one either!).

So, yes. This book is brutal. I gave it 4 stars, but I didn't really like it. Too much art + too much grief + too much anxiety + too much stress + poor Leo, loosing everyone and everything he has ever loved over the course of a respectable, long-enough life. I feel like I know this poor man (there's the good writing) and cannot understand how both Erica and Violet can leave him behind. ( )
  Dreesie | Dec 20, 2017 |
I liked this book a lot, and be warned, this review probably will contain spoilers because it would be difficult to write about this book without giving stuff away. This is the story of "what I love". Leo is our protagonist. He is a Jewish, New York Man who is a teacher, writer of art and he falls in love with the portrait titled 'Self Portrait' which is be Bill and the person in the painting is Violet. Leo was born in the thirties and his family came from Europe to escape what was happening in Germany. The author is Siri Hustvedt, from Minnesota, married to Paul Auster. Violet was from Minnesota and returned to visit family occasionally. She brought her step son to Minnesota to go through treatment at Hazelden.

Some say this is about love. I say it is about the past tense of love. Love lost. Leo loses his family of origin, he then loses his child and his wife. Next he loses his best friend Bill and in his loss he tries to replace love with Mark and Violet. And in the end, he loses his eye sight, so it can also be said that this book is about aging and in aging we lose those things we love as we move along. It is also about grief.

The story is also an interesting look at art and mental illness. I would say the author does an excellent job with mental illness both in the history research that Violet does on hysteria as well as Bill's brother Dan and antisocial personality disorders of Mark.

Rating: 4.25 ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 17, 2017 |
It's been a long time since a book engaged me on so many levels. The writing is lyrical, the pacing makes it hard to put down, the story has a clear arc along with embellishments that don't feel extraneous, the charachters and their ŕelationships are solidly drawn, and the register of emotional timbre is wide. An added bonus, for me, is the author's descriptions of her main characters' professional lives. We are dealing with highly educated people: artists, art historians, and cultural observers, and they bring a whole level of insight into the lives being lived in the story. I could easily pick it up and start again from the beginning. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
What I loved reads disconcertingly like a revival of the ageing-male-Jewish-New-York-professor novel meme of the fifties and sixties (Saul Bellow and co.). The narrator, art historian Leo Hertzberg, is recording a phase of his life in which he has lost or been rejected from just about every connection that he has invested emotional energy in: his wife and son, his close friend the artist Bill Wechsler, and Bill's son and two wives. And through an incurable eye disease he's even lost his ability to look at pictures other than in memory's eye.

But this isn't a novel about Leo. He's there as an observer and reporter, and as a kind of calibration standard for the normality of his reactions to the things that go on in his life. What we are interested in are all the other characters around him, who react to emotional stress in much more varied ways. Especially, the three main female characters and the artists Bill and Matt, who are all characterised to the reader chiefly through the projects they are working on, but also the mentally-ill brother and the teen-from-hell... Along the way, we get a certain amount of emotional bashing ourselves, as well as some fairly demanding discussions about aesthetics and the role of fashion in both psychiatry and the New York art world.

I didn't enjoy this quite as much as The burning world and The summer without men, but it's still a very impressive novel. ( )
  thorold | May 1, 2017 |
At a gallery in SoHo, art historian Leo Hertzberg sees a dream-like painting of a young woman, Self-Portrait by William Wechsler. He is so fascinated by the painting that he seeks out Bill, leading to a deep and lasting friendship between the two men. Over the years, their lives become more and more entwined. Bill and his first wife move into the apartment above Leo and his wife, Erica. Both couples have baby boys within days of each other. Later, BillÛªs muse and second wife, Violet, arrives.

I‰Ûªm sorry if this sounds boring because I assure you it‰Ûªs not. The heartbreaking nature of the plot comes when Siri Hustvedt, after carefully establishing happy lives for her characters, cruelly strips their happiness away. Family members and friends leave or are lost until Leo is left alone in the once lively apartment.

Ugh, my review can't do this book any justice, so I will just say is that everything, right down to the title, is perfect. ( )
  doryfish | Aug 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Siri Hustvedtprimary authorall editionscalculated
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Paul Auster
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Yesterday, I found Violet's letters to Bill.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Friendship, art and love
- things to look back at after
life is mostly lived.

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)

(see all 4 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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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