Customer Reviews


55 Reviews
5 star:
 (24)
4 star:
 (15)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (7)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What I Loved
This novel sees Professor Leo Hertzberg, art historian, look back over twenty five years of his life and his relationship with his close friend, artist, Bill Wechsler. The book is set within New York's art scene and the characters are all involved in some form or other - Leo's wife Erica is an English professor, Bill an artist, his first wife, Lucille, a poet, and his...
Published 14 months ago by S Riaz

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intrusive author
There is probably a good novel about relationships hidden in this book, although the characters are not warmly drawn,so it's hard to feel sympathy for them. The author's presence is everywhere, and the needless overly intellectual digressions on art made me feel like an ignoramus. The novel needed a bit of editorial oversight, but then of course it would have been much...
Published 6 months ago by Martin Daly


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What I Loved, 1 July 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This novel sees Professor Leo Hertzberg, art historian, look back over twenty five years of his life and his relationship with his close friend, artist, Bill Wechsler. The book is set within New York's art scene and the characters are all involved in some form or other - Leo's wife Erica is an English professor, Bill an artist, his first wife, Lucille, a poet, and his second wife, Violet, a historian. In this academic world, Leo befriends Bill and they remain close friends all their lives. Bill and Lucille move into an apartment above Leo and Erica's and, when the two couples have sons literally months apart, it cements the relationships. Even when Bill and Lucille divorce and he remarries, the ties are still strong and the boys more like cousins than friends. Tragedy strikes when one of the boys dies and is further compounded when the remaining child becomes troubled as he grows up - lying, becoming involved with drugs and with controversial artist Teddy Giles.

I found this book extremely moving as a study of friendship, relationships, family and grief. The novel moves towards it's conclusion slowly, almost imperceptibly, and the story changes into a mystery, which Leo feels compelled to unravel. This is beautifully written and Leo an interesting narrator. I think this novel would have much to offer reading groups and enjoyed it very much; both the story and characters will stay with me for a long while.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diamond in the rough, 18 Aug 2007
By 
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
What I Loved is a beautiful, sprawling novel about love and loss. Once you get past the first hundred or so pages, that is. Divided into three parts, the first third genuinely doesn't seem to know where it's going, with interwoven flashbacks that quickly become disorientating. Persevere, though, because the good stuff is yet to come. The book as a whole reads as if Hustvedt honed her literary skills during the course of writing it - and then simply didn't bother to go back and edit part one. The worst of it is that her narrator's voice doesn't ring true at first either. This is supposedly written from the perspective of an elderly man, but Siri Hustvedt is very much female - and it shows. For the longest time there's simply no avoiding the glaring fact that it's a woman speaking here, not a man. Then the novel takes a dramatic turn, and from that point onwards she seems to get into her strides, so to speak.

The method Hustvedt uses to get your attention is hardly original, but it's powerful nonetheless. I hadn't expected to care so much, but a growing affection for the characters had crept up on me somehow and from that point on I was hooked. In short, there's never been a more deserving candidate for the phrase `flawed but interesting'. In spite of the bumpy start there's some magnificent stuff here. This is (partly) a book about the outskirts of the New York art scene, and her lengthy descriptions of one artist's works are rendered stunningly well. Even potentially dry academic subjects are given life and vigour by Hustvedt's pen. Oddly enough, when the book moves into horror film territory, she really excels at the gory stuff - everything is fleshy and real, almost sickeningly so.

This final third of the book, a kind of psychological mystery story, reminded me fleetingly of `The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster, to whom this book is dedicated. The fact that he's also Hustvedt's husband made me wonder if his literary influence had rubbed off on her somehow... But in the end this mostly magical book is unique to Hustvedt, I think. Not perfect by a long shot, but unforgettable nevertheless.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-Provoking and Thrilling, 7 Sep 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
A rather surprising novel, which begins as a gentle, rather intellectual examination of the friendship between Leo (an art historian) and Bill (an artist, who works as a painter, sculptor and increasingly in mixed media), and their families, but which turns in the last third of the novel into a thriller, with Bill's extremely disturbed son Mark as one of the central figures. Hustvedt's language in the novel is beautiful, her characters compelling. I particularly admired her description of the collapse of Bill's marriage to the cool and remote Lucille, and his very happy second marriage to his former model Violet Blom, a writer on hysteria, eating disorders and cultural studies. Hustvedt also handled very well Leo's secret attraction to Violet, which runs side by side with his very real love for his wife Erica, a professor of English literature. There is much interesting discussion of culture and philosophy (I'd say you have to be of a fairly academic bent to enjoy the first half of the book, but most people who read Hustvedt would be) and Hustvedt also brings Bill's artwork wonderfully to life, particularly his paintings. Although I found the collapse of Leo's family life after a tragedy somewhat unexpected (and it might have been more interesting to have Leo's son survive - he would have been a strong contrast to Mark) Hustvedt also writes well and sensitively on grief, and how one might feel having lost a child. The second half of the book is a real page-turner, without ever becoming vulgar in any way, and with many interesting insights into child and adolescent psychology, even if the figure of Teddy Giles may seem slightly melodramatic (but then, many performance artists are!) And the conclusion, though it may not be exactly what the reader wants, is dignified and moving, showing that things can be salvaged even from wrecked lives.

A wonderful, big rewarding read: thought-provoking and also addictively readable. I've now bought all Hustvedt's other books and am enjoying them too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Must Read Novels of this year, 20 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: What I Loved (Hardcover)
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, is one of the most extraordinary novels I have read for a long time. It is primarily a novel of ideas and yet has a great plot and is very gripping. It is the story of 2 couples who are part of the artistic bohemian set in Greenwich Village, they are a very close group of friends and few other people permeate into their world. This book charts the relationships between these people and their children. The novel incorporates art, the process of biography, memory and how it fluctuates, love, loss, hysteria, eating disorders and many many other issues. It is one of those rare things a book which stays with you for a long time after you have read it. I urge everyone who enjoys fine writing and thoughtful concepts to read this book it is a real treat.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars slow burning literary thriller, 2 Jun 2014
By 
IJS (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
“What I Loved” is a story set in an intellectual and “High Art” New York. It tells the story of two couples and on one level is a very absorbing look at the dynamics between two families. But it is also a compelling thriller, the drive of which is hidden for a long time but takes over in the second half of the novel. I have loved it and had the fear-of-bereavement-slowing-down as I neared the end. It is very rich and such a fully gripping story that I felt like I sank into it and was submerged each time I picked it up.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good writing as usual, 29 Aug 2013
By 
Elena Maria Accinelli (Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
She writes clearly and concisely.
However in this book i feel she overdid some of her descriptions, though they were perhaps necessary to understand the story better.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting novel, 26 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
I'm very fond of Siri Hustvedt as a writer, she has special style of writing that appeal to me. What I loved is a fantastic well written novel. Hustvedt know how to get to you as a reader, and by some magical touch she leads the reader through the book with her special way of getting to the reader.I could simplee not put the book away beacause it had a strong grip on me and it had a big effect on me. The plot is fascinating and Hustvedt managed to keep the reader in full attention through the whole book. It's difficult to tell or describe in a simple way what makes What I loved so special, but in a short way I can say, the plot, the way Hustvedt write and how she managed to leave something behind with the reader after reading the book. The reading has a meaning and get's you to think about lots of philosophical things that concern the meaning of live.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What i love about this book, 23 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: What I Loved (Hardcover)
There are some books that have a great plot, great characters or just have a great atmosphere...

What I loved hasn't got a particularly gripping plot nor are the characters very lovable, but what Hustvedt does is create such atmosphere in every sentence, on every page.

I've read this book 3 times now and can't wait to read it again, it's the closest to listening to music while reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars involving - eventually, 28 Nov 2007
By 
A. Davies (Somerset) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
Pros
* The main characters are well written and involving. The author is remarkably good at writing from a male perspective, though that perspective is a narrow one, restricted to the New York intelligentsia.
* An exceptional and moving description of parental reaction - both physical and emotional - to the death of their child.
* The "thriller" element has a slow build-up, though eventually becomes a close examination of aspects of the "Nature/Nurture" debate on psychopathology; and this is convincingly explored.

Cons
* The setting is very rarefied - the New York art world. If you have no interest in this small group of self-important people, then it is difficult to care about them, unless the author works hard with emotional pathos.
* The author has included very elongated passages describing her conception (through her artistic character Bill) of conceptual artwork. Maybe this is post-conceptual i.e. describing an art-piece without actually creating it. However, I found it starts to pall rather quickly. I skipped these pages.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start but an excellent, gripping read, 8 May 2007
By 
C. Williams (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)
When I first started reading this book I nearly gave up as I found the first few chapters long-winded, waffly and boring. But I'm so glad that I perservered because the next two parts of the story were truly gripping and I found that I couldn't put it down. If the first part had been more exciting I would have given this book five stars. I thought the story was original, intriguing and incredibly moving. I really felt for the main character after his loss, and how he put all his faith and belief into Mark, only to be let down. I thought the story had twists and turns and I found that I couldn't guess what was going to happen next. I also thought the ending was excellent, if terribly sad. I'd highly recommend this book because, despite a slow beginning, it really is worth reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

What I Loved
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (Paperback - 4 Aug 2003)
£6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews