Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Hustvedt beautifully captures the devastation of such loss as she immerses the reader in the lives of two families who, hobbled by their shared wounds, desperately search for salvation in the accomplished world of art and intellectual brilliance in New York City. Highly recommended." Beth E. Andersen, Library Journal
"What I Loved is Siri Hustvedt's most ambitious, most rewarding novel. It mesmerizes, rouses, disturbs. Hustvedt is that rare artist, a writer of high intelligence, profound sensuality and a less easily definable capacity for which the only word I can find is wisdom." Salman Rushdie
"An impressive new talent....Relationships, like everything else in Hustvedt's world, are lively, unpredictable, full of mysterious emotion: the dark side of everyday life." Time
"A writer of eloquent and vivid disposition." Don DeLillo
"Hustvedt is an accomplished art critic and essayist, and her knowledge is put to good narrative use both in vivid portraiture and in her depiction of 'the vanities, corruptions, cruelties, foibles, fortunes and falls of New York's art world.' But her real canvas is philosophical, and here she explores the nature of identity in a structure of crystalline complexity." Janet Burroway, New York Times Book Review
"So solid and complex are Hustvedt's characters that the change in pace is effortlessly effected the plot developments are the natural extension of the author's meticulous examination of relationships and motives....[A] gripping, seductive novel, a breakout work for Hustvedt." Publishers Weekly
"[Hustvedt] succeeds in evoking her self-absorbed characters' lives with startling sympathy and nuance...while demonstrating a depth of emotion not evinced by her earlier fiction. The second half of the novel, however, devolves into a hokey thriller....an unfortunate development for a book that got off to such a promising start." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Superb...What I Loved is a rare thing, a page turner written at full intellectual stretch, serious but witty, large-minded and morally engaged." The New York Times Book Review
"So richly imagined is the art in her book that it serves not just to illuminate hidden emotions but also as a subject in itself...A wrenching portrait of parental grief, then a psychological thriller, and finally a meditation on the perspective of memory." Vogue
"In the marvelous and gripping first third of Siri Hustvedt's fifth book, an academic named Leo Hertzberg recounts the beginning years of his, and his wife Erica's, burgeoning friendship with a brilliant painter and his wife (and the painter's girlfriend). This is intelligent and full-hearted stuff, and What I Loved
seems to be shaping up to be a rare accomplishment a thrilling novel of ideas." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
From a writer praised for her "fresh, original voice" (New York Times Book Review) and "hypnotic" prose (Junot Díaz) comes a captivating novel about two museum guards in London for whom life and art begin to overtake one another in unsettling and surreal ways.
About the Author
Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English literature and is the internationally acclaimed author of five novels, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Blindfold, and The Summer Without Men, as well as a growing body of nonfiction including, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle, and an interdisciplinary investigation of the body and mind in The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2011, she delivered the thirty-ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna.She lives in Brooklyn.