What I Loved

What I Loved

4.01 (11,017 ratings by Goodreads)
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In 1975 art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a New York gallery. He buys the work, tracks down its creator, Bill Weschler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. This is the story of their intense and troubled relationship, of the women in their lives and their work, of art and hysteria, love and seduction and their sons - born the same year but whose lives take very different paths.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 26mm | 240.4g
  • Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Sceptre
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • none
  • 0340682388
  • 9780340682388
  • 46,249

Review quote

Breathtaking James Urquhart, Independent A love story with the grip and suspense of a thriller. It makes you ponder human existence with a peculiar mixture of stoicism and wonder. Noonie Minogue, Times Literary Supplement Defiantly complex and frequently dazzling ... she has created a conceptually exciting work that demands we think, but which still allows us room to feel. Alex Clark, Sunday Times Substantial, moving and beautifully written Christian House, Independent on Sunday A big, wide, sensuous novel - clever, sinister, yet attractively real Julie Myerson, Guardian A consummately intelligent novel, highly literate but also intensely moving. Jackie McGlone, Scotsman Riveting ... erudite and immensely detailed ... a rich, densely textured and utterly absorbing novel Lesley Glaister Subtle, compassionate, wise, and supremely intelligent, it's a striking achievement. Kieron Corless, Time Out Hustvedt ranks amongst the finest American writers working today Jennifer O'Connell, Sunday Business Post a powerful novel of love, loss and longing, exquisitely written Anne Donovan, Sunday Heraldshow more

About Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt's first novel, The Blindfold, was published by Sceptre in 1993. Since then she has published The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, The Sorrows of an American, The Summer Without Men and The Blazing World, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. She is also the author of the poetry collection Reading To You, and four collections of essays -Yonder, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, A Plea for Eros and Living, Thinking, Looking, as well as the memoir The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. Born in Minnesota, Siri Hustvedt now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has a PhD in English from Columbia University and in 2012 was awarded the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. She delivered the Schelling Lecture in Aesthetics in Munich in 2010, the Freud Lecture in Vienna in 2011 and the opening keynote at the conference to mark Kierkegaard's 200th anniversary in Copenhagen in 2013, while her latest honorary doctorate is from the University of Gutenburg in Germany. She is also Lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and has written on art for the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph and several exhibition catalogues.show more

Review Text

If praise from one's peers is an indicator of success, then the fulsome jacket blurbs from no less than Salman Rushdie and Don DeLillo for Hustvedt's previous two books should give the casual reader a clue that here is no ordinary novel. DeLillo is, in fact, the writer who springs to mind when one tries to find a reference point for Hustvedt's elegant and lightly nuanced analysis of the human condition, and her characters, academics and artists engaged in unravelling the mysteries of the psyche, could have walked straight off the pages of, say, White Noise. This is not to imply that Hustvedt has been unduly influenced by other writers; her voice is very much her own, and her characters are certainly not drawn from anywhere but her own imagination. Leo, the narrator, is a New York art critic whose admiration for the paintings of one Bill Weschler turns into a lifelong friendship with the artist and his family. We first encounter Leo in early middle age, newly married to Erica. Bill and his wife Lucille first become neighbours, and the four are soon bound together by the birth of sons to both couples, Matthew and Mark. First, Bill's marriage to Lucille crumbles, then Leo's and Erica's marriage comes under the most dreadful strain imaginable when their son, Matthew, dies in an accident at summer camp. Leo becomes something of a father figure to Bill's son, Mark, but by the time Mark becomes a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, it is clear that all is not well. Bill's muse and lover, Violet, does what she can for Mark, but after Bill's death from natural causes, it is left to Leo to try and uncover the truth about Mark's sinister night-time activities and about his relationship with a controversial young artist who has been accused of sensationalism and, worse, murder. Violet's academic work on eating disorders and the American attitude towards food have ill-prepared her to accept that Mark is suffering from something worse than mere teenage angst and drug addiction, and slowly she and Leo come to accept that the boy may be suffering from some kind of sociopathy. This is a beautifully written and insightful novel about the way we live now. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

11,017 ratings
4.01 out of 5 stars
5 37% (4,070)
4 38% (4,153)
3 18% (1,960)
2 6% (608)
1 2% (226)

Our customer reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For the first 135 pages I was wondering what everyone was raving about. However I realised that the author was creating the base for the rest of the book, developing the characters and relationships with great care and detail, and emersing the reader in the New York art world. The descriptions allow you to see the paintings the artist is creating. When I got to chapter two the book became very compelling and the description of the tragedy and the way the characters dealt with it was amazing. There are so many sub themes of nature/nurture, hysteria, different perspectives and the perspective of the third, and the tragedy of life itself and the twists it presents to us. It is a book I am sure I will remember.show more
by Nicole Peacocke
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