Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Enchantment of Lily Dahl” as Want to Read:
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Enchantment of Lily Dahl

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  1,470 ratings  ·  92 reviews
The protagonist of Siri Hustvedt's astonishing second novel is a heroine of the old style: tough, beautiful, and brave. Standing at the threshold of adulthood, she enters a new world of erotic adventure, profound but unexpected friendship, and inexplicable, frightening acts of madness. Lily's story is also the story of a small town--Webster, Minnesota--where people are bro ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Picador (first published January 1st 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Enchantment of Lily Dahl

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,300)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
K.D. Absolutely

For a grown up man like me, what a way to celebrate Halloween. This book has that eerie feeling that one gets by reading Emilie Bronte's Wuthering Heights and at the same time watching an R-18 movie with frontal nudity. Lily Dahl, this novel's main protagonist, is a 19-y/o county girl who is a waitress in a highway side cafe in a small sleepy town in America, Webster, Minnesota. She is dreaming for a better life as an actress by going to New York. So, aside from working as a waitr
This is a weird book. There's no other way to describe it: it's extremely strange. It's one of Siri Hustvedt's earlier novels, originally published in 1996, seven years before her masterpiece What I Loved. What surprised me the most about The Enchantment of Lily Dahl is how different in tone it is to What I Loved and Hustvedt's subsequent novels. It doesn't quite feel like it was written by someone else - there's a discernible similarity in style, particularly evident in the constant pervading s ...more
The book drew me in my its seductive descriptions of Lily's attraction to Ed an artist painting in the street. I liked the descriptions of their erotic world very much - it was understated and honest. There was a surreal quality to the book, at one point in the narrative I wondered whether the strange events were occurring only in Lily's consciousness.
The enchantment of Lily occurs on a number of levels: she enchants others - her ex Hank and the disturbed Martin - and Ed and the creative life -
Joan Winnek
A peculiar but engaging story, with a surprising climax.
Jonathan Ashworth
Twelve pages into this book and you realize two things: first, Siri Hustvedt has so many hooks that if this were an album you’d be singing along by the third time you heard it. Second, there’s a spiritual connection between this book and Sherwood Anderson’s odd masterpiece, Winesburg, Ohio, in both its small-townness and the entwined themes of identity and sexuality.

A little further into the book and you may also be thinking of Edward Hopper’s paintings of American loneliness. There are times wh
Despite early reservations, I kept reading The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that I loved the novel in the end. It’s a strange book populated by a cast of characters so odd it seems impossible that they should all end up in the same story.

There’s Lily, the 19 year old waitress who worships Marilyn Monroe and dreams of becoming an actress. There’s Mabel, her elderly next-door-neighbour, who can’t sleep and spends her time writing the story of her life. There’s Dick and
It's interesting to me that other reviews have discussed the notion of 'mystery' in this novel, as if this is the central core. I agree that there are mysterious things happening, but they seem to me to simply be the sum total of life in a small town where idiosyncrasy can often reign.

This novel is well written and thoughtful, it creates a series of slightly, but well drawn characters who bring and overall sense of truth to the story. Hustvedt's skill always seems to me to be foremost in her un
I usually need about 50 pages to get drawn in by siri but unfortunately this didn't happen with this book. Thematically there were many similarities to What I Loved but they were much more engagingly and intriguingly explored in What I Loved, particularly the themes of changelings, memory and identity. I found it a struggle to finish this book and therefore wouldn't recommend it.
There were some good nuggets in there but as with her other novels, I find the story so creepy and the characters so wildly unlikable (except Mabel) that it wasn't worth the read. So over Siri Hustvedt.
Lily is a cafe waitress with acting ambitions, who during the rehersals of a local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream unwittingly arouses the attentions of fellow actor and childhood friend Martin. He seems to want something with Lily that can't be stated outright and which is linked to their past, but Lily only has eyes for new-in-town artist Edward. They embark on an affair, but the small-town gossip suggests Edward is not all that he seems and as the story unfolds Lily's behaviour become ...more
This was a strange little book that I am finding hard to categorise, it wasnt exactly a mystery or a thriller but it contained elements of suspense; it wasnt exactly magic realism but the lines between illusion and reality were blurred . I loved the authors attention to detail and her recording of the small details of life. I also love stories that contain bizzare characters in small towns but the authors blending of fantasy and reality was confusing at times. I also found the character of Marti ...more
Val Olson
I enjoy Hustvedt's writing. Her writing is sophisticated and often has the arts world/literary world as a backdrop.I read What I Loved: A Novel, and was hoping I'd be as much into Lily Dahl as I was What I Loved, set in NYC, which was more intricate in terms of character development and the relationships between the characters.

The setting for Lily Dahl was Webster, Minnesota. Either Hustvedt spent some time living in small town Minnesota, or she did some solid research. It seemed fairly spot on
yeah i don't even know what to say about this one. not quite sure why i even finished it. confusing, weird, idk ?
I thought it was just me. I thought that the way I was reading this book was making my understanding of the story disjointed and unsatisfactory.
The story has many holes, gaps and unexplained motives. The author takes the book in one direction and then another. At first we have a coming of age book about a small town girl treading water waiting to start college and save a little money waitressing. Then it takes on an erotic thriller edge. Then a surrealist/magical realism edge.
The jumps the sto
I wanted to slap Lily badly for letting me down. She was a fascinating character at the beginning of the story. It was all very dark and atmospheric, so promising, so much sexual innuendo all around. But our heroine turned so childish and clichéd after the first third of the book that despite Hustdvet's mastery as a storyteller (lean, to-the-point plots, great characterizations) I found the rest of the book a bit of a chore, the task propelled only by the promise of a good climax.

The Enchanteme
Tonia Harris
While most of this story was thoroughly engrossing and washed you in the depths of a dream world, I did not find the end satisfying. Endings in many books are ambiguous, and leave the reader asking questions and thinking what exactly the story meant. The same story can mean many different things to many readers. I wanted to be able to feel this way when I finished the book, because it was beautifully written, but I didn't know the right questions to ask at the end of this one. I felt like the wr ...more
Lauren Albert
I loved some of the characters--Lily's neighbor, the unwashed brothers, the owner of the cafe where she works. I had mixed feelings about her romantic relationships.
Wow. The metaphor of Lily Dahl is carried through this outstanding book to perfection. I loved it.
3 and 1/2 stars.
Terri Kempton
This was a creepy, fascinating read for me. This was in no small measure because the setting of small-town Webster, Minnesota, is a thinly veiled version of Northfield, Minnesota, home of Carleton College. Piece by piece this was revealed: first we got the Cannon River, then Division Street, then the Ideal Cafe, Jesse James Days, and a nod to Veblen.

The characters are eccentric and intriguing, and the pacing moves well. But the story arc feels a bit like True Detective in that all the fantasy e
Tiina Suvanto
Lumous on kirjan nimestä ja alun tapahtumista huolimatta enemmänkin jännityskertomus kuin rakkaustarina – ei ainakaan sellainen rakkaustarina, mitä siltä odotti. Päähenkilön ja taidemaalarin suhteen synnystä alkava kertomus tuntuu jäävän kyseisen suhteen käsittelyssä jokseenkin pinnalliselle tasolle outojen tapahtumien ja muiden hahmojen vallatessa enemmän tilaa. Kirjan nimeen viittaava lumous onkin jossain muualla kuin näiden kahden välisessä suhteessa, ja ilmenee pakkomielteenä ja järjen menet ...more
May 25, 2015 Shannon rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Siri Hustvedt is probably one of my favorite contemporary authors and her two most recent novels, What I Loved and The Sorrows of an American, are both minor masterpieces in my eyes.

Unfortunately, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl lacks the finesse apparent in Hustvedt's later works and the character of Lily Dahl isn't quite intriguing enough to make up for the meandering direction of the plot. In fact, she comes across as somewhat of a cipher, her personality shifting to suit the people around her a
blurb on GRs doesn't really tell you much about the story and the blurb on the back of the book isn't exactly right either......which makes my review harder.....Lily is small town girl who has ideas about moving away, she waits tables, is member of the Arts Guild and knows everyone in town....most of whom are, in their own ways, eccentric; mabel the elderly but still feisty literary neighbour, dolores who could be a hooker, and the Bodler brothers who haven't had a bath! ever! oh and whole bunch ...more
Belyana Velikova
Това е първата книга на Сири Хуствет, която прочетох. Не бих казала обаче, че трилърът е нейната стихия. Приятна книга, женските образи са добри, атмосферата на заспалото градче добре пресъздадена. Нестандартно начало на любовна история /макар да ми прилича на една друга такава/, вмъкване на алюзии със "Сън в лятна нощ" и образът на Мерлин Монро. Прочетох, че присъствието на изкуството било типично за творчеството на Хуствет, ще видим.
I am a huge fan of Paul Auster's novels and I was curious about his wife's writing, so I bought this book. It's set in a small town full of freaks and the whole atmosphere of it reminded me of Twin Peaks in a way. I enjoyed the writing style and the characters, the plot was quite engaging, as well. It's a kind of a coming-of-age story and it's got its erotic moments but on the whole this book is really creepy.
Amy Fulwood
Siri Hustevdt captures the suffocating nature of small town America and gives a convincing portrait of the characters found there. The bizarre events in the story can cause the reader to question the sanity of the narrator and those closest to her while still ultimately taking her side. As usual, Hustvedt writes brilliantly.

Lumous ei lumonnut minua. Kirja oli hyvä: kieli oli kaunista ja kuvailevaa, tarinakaan ei ollut huono. Kirjan henkilöhahmot olivat hyvin eläväisiä. Mitä nyt päähenkilö ei oikein herättänyt positiivisia saati negatiivisia tunteita, lähinnä suurta ihmetystä. Mutta kirja ei ehkä ollut ihan mun lajityyppiä. Kuin venynyt novelli, jossa tapahtui vain joukko irrallisia asioita ja välillä mikään ei tuntunut liittyvän mihinkään.

Kirjan luki melko nopeasti (tai kirjan lukee melko nopeasti, jos on aikaa ja
I picked up this novel because I heard that Hustvedt had based the town she calls Webster on Northfield, MN. Indeed, the details of Division Street, the Ideal cafe, the Stuart hotel, the community theater at the Arts Guild, the names and personality-types are all plucked straight from the reality of my experience in Northfield. That said, I found the story itself to be the weakest part of the novel. I anticipated much of the plot and the "twists" were no surprise. it wasn't until the end of the ...more
Siri Hustvedt är en skicklig författare. Boken kan läsas som en thriller med Twin Peaks stämning, men den innehåller mycket mera än bara spänning. En del psykologi, en ung kvinnas utveckling, relationer, vänskap mellan kvinnor, konst och måleri, småstadsliv etc. Allt detta är skrivet med ett vackert språk och en perfekt rytm. Författaren tappar aldrig tråden. Sällan har jag läst något så genomtänkt, så tyckte jag även när jag läste hennes bästsäljande bok och min favorit, Vad jag älskade, för nå ...more
Love Siri Hustvedt's writing; Read "Blindfold" before this one. I actually love all her books and essays she has an ease in her writing that grabs hold of your imagination. I picked up the book "Blindfold" in 1994 in Oslo, Norway. I read it on the flight back to the states and wow it was amazing. Over the years I would read and re-read it and then finally this book "The Enchantment of Lily Dahl" was published at the time I found this book I was so excited because I loved the other book so much. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 76 77 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Incidents in the Rue Laugier
  • Kvinderne på stranden
  • Journey to the South: A Calabrian Homecoming
  • At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4)
  • Before You Sleep
  • Ihana meri
  • Sansibar oder der letzte Grund
  • Water Street
  • Confessions of a French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips, and Recipes
  • Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel
  • Syötäväksi kasvatetut
  • Auggie Wren's Christmas Story
  • The Book of the Sword (Hallowed Isle, #1)
  • Watch Me Disappear
  • Saving Agnes
  • Missä kuljimme kerran
  • Ritournelle de la faim
  • Lyckans hjul
Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her father Lloyd Hustvedt was a professor of Scandinavian literature, and her mother Ester Vegan emigrated from Norway at the age of thirty. She holds a B.A. in history from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University; her thesis on Charles Dickens was entitled Figures of Dust: A Reading of Our Mutual Friend.

Hustvedt has mainly made
More about Siri Hustvedt...
What I Loved The Summer Without Men The Blazing World The Sorrows of an American The Blindfold

Share This Book