Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
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Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  2,597 ratings  ·  416 reviews
In this moving, wry, and candid novel, widely acclaimed novelist Ayelet Waldman takes us through one woman’s passage through love, loss, and the strange absurdities of modern life.

Emilia Greenleaf believed that she had found her soulmate, the man she was meant to spend her life with. But life seems a lot less rosy when Emilia has to deal with the most neurotic and sheltere...more
Published January 24th 2006 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2006)
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Sep 26, 2007 Jenna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mothers
It's my fault, really. I put this book on my "to read" list a very, very long time ago, well before I was pregnant. When I saw it in the library, I picked it up without reading the jacket, instead remembering that I had once placed it on my list and therefore it must be something that I can read at any time. Wrong.

Pregnant mothers, especially those who have experienced a previous loss, should not read this while pregnant (or immediately after baby's arrival... not that you have time to read then...more
This book took me WAY by surprise. It sounded great on the cover, bought it on a whim on the bargain bookshelf, and picked it up on a day when I couldn't stomach even one more minute of pharmacy talk.

The beginning was slow, and I didn't even think I was going to get to the middle - as much as I loathe doing it, I thought it was going to have to be one of those books I just don't ever finish. And then...something happened. Nothing concrete. No huge plot twists or dramas. But I connected with the...more
The writing here is unusually strong. I didn't expect to like the story as much as I did. The characterization is outstanding, and when the narrative voice really fits, ring true. Because of point of view, the secondary characters work unusually well. As the reader, you're right with the main character's epiphanies about the others, which worked for me. Even though I haven't been to Central Park, as a metaphor for relationships, whoa.

This would be an interesting book to do for book club, if onl...more
I go back and forth a lot with this one. Waldman does something very interesting in this book and I;m still not sure how I feel about it, and for that I give her a bonus star for what was otherwise a pretty badly written story.
LAOIP is about a lawyer named Emilia who falls madly, desperately in love with Jack, a nice Jewish lawyer who -whoops - happens to be married. Jack resists until he can't anymore and they end up together. Cliche.
Interesting, not cliche aspects that I appreciated:
1 - The id...more

The character isn't terribly likable, but that isn't fair as she just lost her daughter. A two day old child. Grief is a powerful, life changing thing.

I couldn't put the book down, reading it in two days. I had to know what happened next, would her marriage survive, would she have another kid, could Carolyn be anymore of a bitch? But, I didn't love it. It wraps up too neatly, too cute for me.

Halfway through reading this, I thought i should read more books with female protagonists b...more
Another semi-random library choice, "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" by Ayelet Waldman served in part as an exercise in voyeurism: I just wanted to see if Michael Chabon's wife was as gifted a writer as he. The answer to that is a resounding NO, but she's not exactly talentless, either. Despite an endorsement from Sherman Alexie on the jacket blurb, this book falls squarely in the realm of "chick lit", or, more precisely, "depressing snooty-chick lit replete with an ample dose of infidelity...more
Este é daqueles livros que, à primeira vista, pode suscitar uma "avaliação" menos correcta. Um título algo lamechas, uma capa que é uma mistura de romance e ternura e pensar-se-ia que estaríamos perante uma daquelas obras para para desanuviar de leituras mais densas ou das coisas "aborrecidas" da vida. Nada mais errado...

Inicialmente, o livro é escrito duma forma melodiosa e também cativante, até porque escrever sobre a morte de um filho será tudo menos fácil. Depois é-nos revelado o lado mais s...more
I am not a reader of misery molly type women's fiction usually- there is enough real tragedy in the world to be read in The New York Times (are you listening, Jodi Picoult?), but I've been on an Ayelet Waldman kick lately, and reading her memoirs made me want to read this. It is an irritating and depressing story(terribly sad, the domino event being the death of a newborn), with characters so flawed as to be *almost* insufferable. And yet...I cannot put it down. It's like when you turn to the li...more
Bookmarks Magazine

A few critics drew parallels between Emilia's life and the author's own; after all, Waldman achieved some sort of fame last year after she publicly announced that she loved her husband, novelist Michael Chabon, more than her four children. Alter-ego or not, Emilia and her evolving relationship with William take center stage here. But while some critics saw Emilia as narcissistic and wallowing in self-pity, others viewed her as a witty, resilient woman honest with her foibles. Critics similarly s

Despite the many, many problems I had with this book, I ultimately enjoyed it. A lot of people have written the main character, Emilia, as whiny and self-pitying - and she is, and she admits it. But I don't think it's too far off considering she'd lost a child and blames herself heavily for the loss. I did enjoy watching her warm up to William, her stepson, and I really liked the tours of Central Park that Waldman took us on. I did not like that the ex-wife and the father were rather two-dimensi...more
I haven't read any of Waldman's MommyTrack series so this author was new to me. I was impressed. As Emelia suffers through the devastating loss of her child, Walman had me right there with her. She avoids playgrounds and can barely stand to be around her step-son, William. Normally, I don't like books about affairs and am on the side of the ex-wife, but, despite Emilia's flaws, I wanted to read about her. Reading about Central Park and about the way her relationship with William developed was ab...more
I picked this up because my book club is reading it, but I was thoroughly unmotivated to finish it. After reading the first two chapters I read the last chapter and felt no need to read anything in between.
This book reminded me of The Nanny Diary and the Bridget Jones books in as much as it asked me to feel sympathetic towards a narrator I had no reason to feel sympathy for. The narrator came across as shallow, self-pitying and no one I would care to have a conversation with, let alone follow al...more
Jun 14, 2007 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with children
This is a very funny, poignant and moving book about the loss of a baby and the developing relationship with a step-child. Sad and compellingly funny, a good sense of the narrator; twist of Freudian psychology seems a bit forced, but otherwise this is a modern NYC based book which is a lovesong to Central Park. The city itself plays a clear role as a character in the story.
This book (by Ayelet Waldman, wife of Michael Chabon who wrote Kavalier & Klay) was a page turner, however, I cant remember despising a main character so much in a long time. What a selfish woman! I did enjoy the new york-centric storytelling, esp. about intricacies of Central Park. I just disliked the character so much it ruined it for me in the end.
I recently won a Goodreads first-read contest of Waldman's new book, so I wanted to read something older to get a feel for her writing. There is one major uncomfortable subject that this book revolves around, which is DEAD BABIES.

So, knowing that, the book is pretty grim and sad. Emilia Greenleaf Woolf is a Jewish lawyer who is married to Jack, a prominent NYC attorney. Emilia is 10 years younger, and she usurps Jack's perfect marriage + child and marries into a family. The book circles around...more
I have been on a nice long stretch of really good books lately, this one included, and I hope it continues. As I started reading this book, I looked over some of the reviews here and one that stuck with me is that it was slow in the beginning. I really despise when books are slow in the beginning as I get very bored and can easily put the book down and stop reading it. I do agree that this book was slow, but it was the very very beginning, and before I knew it I was 100 pages in. I liked Ms. Wal...more
After reading Waldman's RED HOOK ROAD, I decided to try this book. I loved it in a couldn't-put-it-down way. I wish I had discovered Waldman sooner. She is a fabulous writer: insightful and witty. After reading a Waldman novel, you really feel as though her characters could be members of your own family because you know them so well.

This is the story of a 30'ish woman, Emilia, who falls in love with Jack, an older married man; he divorced his physician wife to marry her. With this man came a pr...more
I loved this book, couldn't put it down - read it in one day flat. I haven't read anything quite like it in a very long time. It's one of those that you get really frustrated and annoyed with the main character, but at the same time totally understand and sympathize with why she does what she does. However, the sole reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because of the author's pretentious overuse of "big"/obscure words. I consider myself well-educated, and well-read with a firm grasp of the...more
Following through on my self-imposed promise to read another Waldman book after finding fault with "Bad Mother." I enjoyed this one much more. It follows the same general theme - the expectations women put on themselves and others - and has the token cliquey moms sitting in judgment outside the 92nd Street Y. However, Waldman's themes resonated with me much more coupled with fictional characters rather than herself, and her characters, while not particularly likable, didn't have the same mean, "...more
This book... so hard to put down... so well written... until the last 50 pages. But to start at the beginning... this novel is the story of so many things. It's the story of a woman who had an affair and a child and a marriage with a married man. Its the story of a woman dealing with the SIDS death of her daughter. It's the story of what happens when we think life can be perfect and it turns out not to be. This novel is the story of so many things, all of them complicated. But the best part is,...more
Wow- Fantastic book. Emilia is selfish, guilty & mourning the death of her 1 day old daughter, Isabel. She makes lots of painful mistakes, hurting the ones who love her the most, her mother, husband, and stepson but she is human and tries to be honest. When confronted by the truth of her actions, she owns up to it and is willing to learn the truth about herself. Emilia, while not likeable, is loveable with all her flaws. This is Ms. Walden's best piece of fiction yet, although I can't wait t...more
Yaffa Shira
I really liked the book, and liked it even more as I got close to the end. No unrealistic happy endings, and make-ups. I also thought the title was so apt only after I finished the book. Not that it wasn't that obvious throughout, I just didn't give it much thought until the end. I think Waldman is a good writer. So much of the book takes place in Central Park, and Waldman describes the park itself and the people who frequent it, that it made me so sad that I didn't even take advantage of the pa...more
I ended up reading this because my local library has a Valentine themed display of wrapped books called Blind Date with a Book. You took out a book without knowing what it was until you got home and unwrapped it. Had I not got it that way I don't think this book would have made it onto my radar and that would have been sad. This was a book filled with emotion and love but hidden under the main character, Em's, pain. The story is told by her in first person. You can feel her desire to heal and be...more
I've read a lot about this author since I stumbled on her blog. Waldman has been the center of some controversy due to her "Bad Mommy" blog, a place where she actually writes openly about her suicidal impulses, abortions and other subjects which set some parents on edge, to the point of hatred. This is my first Waldman book and I have another on order. Based in NYC, the main character is a woman who deeply struggles with being a step mother (this was the hardest part of the book for me, at times...more
This isn't a book I would have usually picked up for myself, but needed something to take on a trip that wasn't a library book (I have a strict rule on traveling with books that aren't mine) and it was a well passed around book.

Fiction about "women of a certain age" seems to always include divorce, adultery, and even more angst than the average high school cafeteria. Ms. Waldman has created a set of characters that are identifiable and I believe each reader will find one character to latch onto...more
Its a very interesting book to read if you like love stories. it's a relaxed book to read and it keeps you wanting to know what this woman will do next. the language is straight forward and complex, you have to know English quite well to really understand the sarcasm and lies. the author did not put emotions or details in the dialogs, it's sort of up to you to figure out how they said it. when i read the book i only realized this at the end and i realized that the way i read it was in an annoyed...more
A surprising, I-read-this-for-a-class find. Granted, it's a class on book discussions in libraries and the book lends itself to that--especially, on the surface, a book to be discussed by women. But the book is one of the best pieces of "domestic fiction" I have ever read, and the author, who traces some of her main character's eccentric, hurtful behavior to her family, seeks not a simple Freudian explanation for it but rather provides a method for her family--and we, the reader--ways to forgive...more
Rachelle Urist
The protagonist is in pain. She's lost her new baby to SIDS, and she can't warm to her 5 year old stepson, who has similar trouble warming to her. Instead of inspiring sympathy, her grief inspires annoyance. I kept putting the book down after incidents in which she ticked me off. "Pull yourself together!" I wanted to shout. I realize that people can be consumed by grief for long periods after such tragedies. But because this book is fiction, the writing urbane, and Ayelet Waldman the wife of Mic...more
At first I was a bit put off by this book - the main character was SO unlikeable that I didn't know if I could finish it. But, I'm glad that I stuck with it. Although she is flawed throughout the book, I found it interesting to follow her journey and ultimately, I think she'd come so far. As a stepmother, I thought the topic was interesting and the book itself was well written despite the uncomfortable topics/emotions that were so integral to the story. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the book!
Catarina Amaral
Sinceramente este livro cativou-me ao início pelas escrita inteligente que este nos transmitia e ao pegar no livro na livraria esperava uma história completamente diferente da que acabei de ler. Esperava uma história entre um homem e uma mulher ao estilo de nicholas sparks. Mas essa história de amor quase não existiu pois no meu ponto de vista esta história trata-se de uma procura de amor entre uma mulher e o seu enteado que parece detesta-la
No meio da história pensei que o livro se resumia a pe...more
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Ayelet Waldman is the author of Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of...more
More about Ayelet Waldman...
Red Hook Road Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace Daughter's Keeper Love & Treasure Nursery Crimes (A Mommy-Track Mystery, #1)

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