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Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  3,145 Ratings  ·  465 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
Published January 24th 2006 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2006)
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Sep 26, 2007 Jenna rated it liked it  ·  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
Mar 27, 2009 treehugger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written story about the difficulties surrounding being a step-parent. Not only did Emilia have to struggle to find her place in her new family, but she also endured one of the most horrible things a parent could ever experience - the loss of a child. I was very nearly in tears off and on throughout this work of art. I look forward to reading more of Ayelet Waldman's books.
Jul 26, 2009 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 26, 2010 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michelle Robinson
I am sure that many will love Emilia. I found her to be selfish and despicable. She seems to. Revel in the fact that she fell "in love with" a married man and sets out to seduce him at any costs. That she then dislikes his preschool aged son and treats him with thinly veiled contempt and seems to somehow feels herself superior to his mother, because the mother uses a nanny is just too much for me to take. This book is well paced and disliking a character has not precluded me from enjoying some b ...more
Laura V.
Por la sinopsis, pensé que sería algo triste y divertido. Que Emilia intentaría ganarse el amor de William (su hijastro de cinco años) de forma honesta y que en el camino ella terminaría queriéndolo. Todo un cuento de hadas, digamos. Emilia no me gusta. No estoy juzgando, no me justifico en que ella se enredara con un hombre casado, porque eso sería una tontería, lo único que me faltaría sería tirarle piedras. No, no me gusta Emilia. Me da ASCO. Es su actitud, es su forma de ser y de tratar a la ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Ivy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 26, 2011 Maura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2011

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
Jun 09, 2009 Katya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: imitating-life
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
Jan 25, 2009 Ellen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 13, 2013 Sónia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2012 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

Mar 31, 2009 Coco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, women
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
4/27/2016: I finished this book quickly, trying to determine when I would feel sympathy for Emilia. Quite frankly, it didn't come, perhaps because of her myopic view but also her flatness. She has all the luxuries of the world, and is floating on her grief, neither wallowing nor dealing, and seems to take for granted the friends that are really willing to be there for her. Even in blaming herself, that seemed like a deflection from dealing with her problems, rather than actually seeking any kind ...more
Jun 14, 2007 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Jenn Cordeiro
Jan 21, 2011 Jenn Cordeiro rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this book and found myself wanting to just skip ahead to see what happened and not wasting my time reading it.

It was just... boring.
Aug 25, 2011 Sophia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped, antipathy
only really made it 20 pages in before i realized it wasnt all taht great and if i had to read another page of this i was going to go more insane..
Jun 03, 2011 Karen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tried, but couldn't finish this one. Such hateable characters!
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
Aug 04, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
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
Dec 14, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, kobo-e-book
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
Aug 08, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2010 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2010 Darci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2010 Corey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sappy
I actually regret reading this book. It's not often that an author allows themselves to dwell on an incredibly depressing topic for such a large portion of a book. I couldn't believe my eyes when I got to page 98 only to read a detailed account of the baby's death. I mean, I got it in the first chapter when the stepmom couldn't stand to see strollers! No need to beat me over the head with it. And what up with the detailed adulterous sex and breast-feeding scenes... come on! And since when are po ...more
Jan 07, 2011 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book because I heard the author interviewed a few times and also read her non-fiction work of essays called "Bad Mother".
I had hoped that a work of fiction might make me like this author a little more than I did after reading her non-fiction. I don't.
"Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" was delightful for me because I am a new yorker living in the rural west and I enjoy hearing about my home. If you love Central Park and New York City, the long narratives describing the p
Jun 24, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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