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2.45  ·  Rating Details ·  332 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
After more than twenty years of life in London, Jean and Mark Hubbard decamp to a remote tropical island in the Indian Ocean. But when Jean, a health columnist, discovers a salacious love letter addressed to her husband, she realizes that she has misdiagnosed some acute pathologies in her own life. The long idyll of their mutual ease is over - and a new quest has just begu ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Marissa Morrison
May 24, 2008 Marissa Morrison rated it it was ok
I think the main problem with this book is that the author relies heavily on summary, rather than description or dialogue, to tell the story. None of the characters seem fleshed out as a result. I had no opinion about whether the protagonist should stay with her husband Mark or try to reconnect with a previous suitor, because I didn't get a clear sense of who either guy was. I didn't even have a full picture of Jean, the protagonist. In the last quarter of the novel, her father becomes ill and f ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Stacysom rated it it was ok
On a long holiday weekend, what do I decide to do? Read a depressing book of questionable merit. I didn't hate it, but I didn't really like it either. It's painfully overwritten. Often, unbearably claustrophobic. At times, embarrassingly silly. And yet. I could find myself relating to the central character, even if I didn't like her. I admired some of the language, when it managed to free itself from the unyielding blather of internal dialogue. Which, I suppose, allowed me to share the experienc ...more
Apr 21, 2008 Yulia rated it really liked it
After a slow, frustrating beginning ("Hmm, my husband may be cheating on me . . . I should probably not be hasty and go to the gym first"), this became a very satisfying book, covering not just infidelity but the potential loss of a father, the estrangement of grown siblings, and the challenge of seeing your daughter build her own life and make her own mistakes.

My one criticism is that she didn't develop the husband Mark fully enough: there was nothing endearing about him, nothing to suggest wh
Emi Bevacqua
Apr 12, 2009 Emi Bevacqua rated it it was ok
I tore thru the first part of this book, when Jean the American writer and Mark her British husband were a nice solid, likable couple enjoying their new home on a tropical island, telecommuting to her magazine job and his ad agency in London.

But then as everything gets complicated (illicit affairs, medical conditions, family issues resulting from her parents' long-ago divorce) instead of getting more interesting, it got harder for me to keep reading. Initially there were little holes in the plo
May 04, 2008 Nancy rated it did not like it
I found parts of this book good. I thought the beginning set up a good story. At times, however, I found the writing particularly confusing. I kept rereading sentences, oftentimes moving on still unsure of what the author was trying to convey. I also found many of the author's analogies inapt. Once I decided not to read it so carefully, I was able to get into the story, only to find the miscommunication between the characters and the resulting consequences to seem quite farfetched and unbelievab ...more
Beth Bonini
Feb 16, 2014 Beth Bonini rated it liked it
I have this tendency, sometimes conscious and sometimes not, to gravitate towards books that deal with themes (ideas,problems)that I'm dealing with in my own life. In the fall, when my sister-in-law was undergoing treatment for alcoholism, I read book after book that touched on addiction issues. In January -- apparently the month in which the most marriage breakdowns take place -- I found out that two of my close friends were dealing with infidelity in their marriages. All of a sudden, it seemed ...more
Oct 16, 2008 mark rated it really liked it
Attachment connotes different things. How a bout a flying bird, carrying a blank document in its beak? Sort of like “a message in a bottle”? No? For that reason I almost didn’t pull the book off the shelf and take it home with me. That’s the New York publishing world for you, specifically Alfred A. Knopf, silly, misinformed, if not damn right stupid. I never read the synopsis on the inside jacket—more foolishness from ad-men (women). What I do do, is look at the author’s photograph on the back f ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Stop added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Attachment author Isabel Fonseca:


It’s 10 a.m. in Primrose Hill, London. Author Isabel Fonseca sits in her kitchen, “tanking up on coffee.” An American by birth and a New Yorker at heart, she remains in disbelief that she’s lived in England for over 25 years. “It’s payment for my sins,” she says. “Or maybe I just forgot to leave.”

Her tone has a throwaway flash to it. She’s just joking, right? Fonseca corrects me immediately. “I’m not, you
Not recommended.

The 2 star average rating given for this book is a pretty accurate representation of the response of our book group who felt that the sexual content was rather too explicit and the story itself was a bit weak. In reward for our efforts to finish the book we weren't even sure whether the protagonist stayed with her husband or left him.

The central character is Jean, a forty-something journalist with a syndicated health column. Her husband of many years is an advertising excutive an
Eli Brooke
Sep 28, 2008 Eli Brooke rated it really liked it
I was very drawn into this book, and am surprised so many other reviews are dismissive. Fonseca's voice for her main character reminds me in a strange way of Virginia Woolf, though the writing style is quite different. What they have in common is a sense of getting inside one very particular mind and really getting to know the way that person thinks... although this particular person is, interestingly enough, apparently unable to do so with the other people in her life -- she interprets everythi ...more
Abby Sominski
May 24, 2008 Abby Sominski rated it did not like it
I started this book, was skimming by the fifth page ... the author jumped between narrating what was going on and stream of thought stating what the main character was thinking, using run-on sentences often ... I couldn't get into it, I didn't care about her or what was happening to her, nor did I care to read far enough to find out what she was going to do about it.
Nancy (essayist)
Apr 12, 2009 Nancy (essayist) rated it did not like it
I couldn't get beyond the first 30 or so pages of this book. I found the heroine completely unsympathetic and the book just seemed depressing and not worth my time. I skimmed a bit before I gave up on it and it didn't seem like I'd be missing much by chucking it. This is the sort of cold, dreary book that put me off contemporary fiction for a while.
Jan 25, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
It the book weren't strangely funny, the psychological, sexual, and gynecological details would be icky. Still, this analysis of truthfulness (or lack of it) in love, sex, and marriage is acute. I really wanted to know what was going to happen, to see if what I supposed would turn out to be true.
Julia Douthwaite
Sep 15, 2016 Julia Douthwaite rated it it was amazing
I just got off a two-day binge read of Attachment by Isabel Fonseca, after finding it by chance in a used bookstore in Paris. I wish I had not read it so fast, but it is one of those books that grabs your heart, mind, and keeps you absolutely enthralled. Just when I thought, "OK, I can see where this is going," it would veer off into an absolutely unexpected new path that made my heart pump and kept me awake til 2am, both nights. The author's keen intelligence, dry humor, and stark, honest descr ...more
Marsha Larsen
Nov 20, 2013 Marsha Larsen rated it really liked it
Shelves: recreation, reviewed
Poor Jean Hubbard. She’s got a lot on her psychic plate in Attachment. Forty-six years old and facing situations typical for the first blush of middle age, she’s at the beginning of the age of loss: your youth, your parents, your offspring as dependent children, your assumption of your own hearty health, your old way of being married. Finally it dawns that being a grown-up and being mature are two separate matters entirely, the latter not flowing naturally from the other in any regard. Indeed, m ...more
Mar 23, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
"Liked" is not the right word. This book was very unsettling, strange and upsetting. I wanted to know what happened in this strangely dysfunctional marriage, even though it was so odd that I needed to skim to find out. Skimming left me too confused, so I began to read again. The essence is that even in a marriage, we misconstrue and keep secrets and act on our own worst interest because we are acting on the narrative we've created about our partner. I think the blurb on the cover doesn't get the ...more
Stacey Clark
Aug 11, 2014 Stacey Clark rated it it was ok
Interesting subject, too close on each little detail, most of which don't move the plot or characters forward. Had it been cut in half, it would have (maybe) been good.

As it stands, it simply bored me. The plot was trite, as were many of the phrases.

I almost consider this a "romance," to which I'd give far more leeway had it been credited as so.

I don't need to pick up a novel otherwise and hear about the white strands through a tall older man's hair, the thick black brush of a younger man.

Jul 05, 2009 Kelly rated it it was ok
Attachment is a novel about a woman in her mid-40s living on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean with her husband. She discovers a series of pornographic e-mails sent to him and the remainder of the novel is about her attempt to sort out what it means for her marriage and herself as she is staring middle age squarely in the eye.

I found the story to be somewhat disjointed and, frankly, boring. While there were some revelations at the end that were intriguing, I did not find the end to be
Jun 23, 2008 Katie added it
Two fantastic writers can live under one roof. Personally, I like her more. I like how her sentences are graceful and sort of timid. I like how the plots aren't too linear (like his), and the writing feels weightless and airy even though the subject matter is not. This is a very feminine novel, not because it's written from a woman's POV, but because the evoked emotion doesn't strike you over the head like a sledgehammer, it's quietly seductive and brutal... like being cought outside in a summer ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Cha rated it did not like it
So sad...maybe the worst book I've ever read. I hate saying this. I know it takes a lot of energy and creativity to create anything. But this story is so vapid: it had nothing to hold onto...nothing to chew. The characters were so skimmed on the surface, I felt no connection, appreciation or sympathy for any of them. I chose it fort book club and regretted it the day I started reading it. We had no book conversation save for a brief consensus from the group that resembled my above mentioned thou ...more
Sep 24, 2009 Chrisiant rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Okay book, perfectly engaging but lacking that special spark. I guess for me the issue was mostly that I'm confused as to whether the monumental plot twist made the book great or totally let the wind out of the great part of the book. I felt like it fizzled after *giant realization that changed everything* but a few days out from reading it I guess maybe I should have been looking for that? It wasn't what I expected, and that made the book enh for me. Also a couple of the characters seemed dista ...more
Dec 31, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it
Despite the blisteringly bad reviews on Amazon, I enjoed this novel about a middle aged woman contending with life in the form of a suspected infidelty, aging parents, and a cancer scare of her own. Poor Jean - I realized about halfway through the book that she was surrounded by people but utterly friendless which could have been the source of some of her unhappiness.

I liked Fonseca's style and her attention to domestic detail. The novel was a pleasure to read, even when I felt my mind drifting
Judith Yeabsley
Nov 22, 2014 Judith Yeabsley rated it liked it
It could have done with a really good edit as it meandered & was too waffly. Although the whole story revolved around a few central characters the author didn't really develop them fully so it was a bit frustrating as it was so "deep" on some levels and so "shallow" on others. Also the main character was exactly the same age as me but seemed so much older. I could not get my head around the fact she was mid-40's and not mid 50's. All this sounds very negative but overall it wasn't a bad read ...more
Jun 11, 2016 Anna rated it did not like it
The plot was quite good but I found the characters dull and unlikable and the pace slowed down by too much irrelevant description of the scenery and too much inner monologue. I thought it was going to be a comedy from the first section, where the wife starts replying to kinky emails from her husband's mistress, pretending to be him, which was a promising start. Unfortunately, the book took itself too seriously with many long and somewhat gross meditations on mortality. I thought almost the entir ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Angela rated it it was ok
I really tried to finish this book but I just couldn't get into it. After reading a few other reviews I discovered that others felt it had a slow start as well. It wasn't just the slow start, it was the way things happened in the book that led me to have no interest. I didn't like how the main character handled her husbands infidelity but then again we are all individuals so perhaps I should have given her fictional perspective a chance.
Jan 10, 2015 Marina rated it it was ok
The books starts with a premise that caught my attention. however, that premise becomes just an excuse to let the author talk about every subject she ever tought was interesting - adultery, mid-life crisis, illness, regrets, etc, etc. - and we feel no conection to it again.
of course it is rather confusing, and we never know where the narrative is going. there is a plot twist in the end that supposedly ties the knots, but it feels forced.
very irregular book.
S.H. Villa
Apr 20, 2015 S.H. Villa rated it it was ok
I bought this because it is the only book by Isabel Fonseca other than her non-fiction on the Roma, Bury Me Standing, which impressed me enormously. Well written, well researched, a forceful, articulate and likeable personality behind that book. But Attachment? It is the story of middle-aged, middle-class people going through marital menopause with a lot of tacky sex. Beautifully written, but what a waste of time and talent.
Buried In Print
Jan 05, 2013 Buried In Print marked it as to-read
Shelves: letters, marriage
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
Nov 09, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I short-changed this novel as I read it intermittently over a couple of weeks. I alternated between wanting to read it again and feeling rather indifferent towards it (I now firmly believe one should never read during the holidays--too much to distract your mind from a good book). Overall an interesting and not entirely depressing view of upper class married life on three continents. 3.5 stars it is but with the caveat that I didn't give it the attention it probably deserves.
Jun 11, 2008 Lucille rated it liked it
Attachment is about a women who finds a love letter addressed to her husband...she looks for answers in all the wrong places...too many substories...her bout with possible breast cancer...her ill father...her daughter leaving thus the empty nest...and her own infidelity. we never really got to know some of the her husband...even though he was a big part of the plot we never really got to know him
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Fonseca studied on Columbia and Oxford.

Writes for many newspapers and magazines, The Independent, Vogue, The Nation, The Wall Street Journal.

For four years, she has been living with the Gypsies from Albany to Poland.

Currently lives in London with her husband Martin Amis and their two daughters.
More about Isabel Fonseca...

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“Mackay had just failed to tip the coat-check girl and was now blinking and working his arms into a too-small trench coat; he looked like a seagull trying to lift up out of an oil spill.” 0 likes
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