Sandra Grauschopf's Reviews > What I Loved

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
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's review
Jan 29, 12

bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read in January, 2012

One of the great things about the library is that I can take a chance on books that I'm not sure if I'll like, since I don't have to pay for them. One of the bad things about the library is that if that risk pays off, I've read a fantastic book, but I don't own it to re-read at my leisure. And it feels silly to buy a book I've already read, when there are so many books out there that I want to read and haven't yet. And this conundrum has risen again, thanks to What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.

I picked up this book because the author's name sounded exotic, and I was in a hurry, and though there was no real description of what the book was about, the cover blurbs mentioned things like "a romance that reads like a thriller," which sounded interesting. Neither reason, however, really gave me a lot of hope that this book would blow me away.

What I ended up with was a book that was so heavily packed with ideas and concepts, both espoused by the characters and embedded in the book itself, that I felt like re-reading it from the beginning immediately after finishing it, just to see what I had missed the first time through. Now, there have been many books I've finished and wished that they continued, or books that I've finished and missed the world they were set in, but I can't remember a single book that I've ever longed to re-read immediately after finishing the final word.

The book revolves around the lives of four highly intellectual people -- the main character, an art-history professor, his wife, an English professor, his good friend and artist, Bill, and Bill's second wife, Violet, who starts off as a grad student but ends up as an author of highly intellectual works about topics like hysteria and eating disorders. The book follows 20 years of their lives, including their hopes, their heartbreaks, their unspoken desires, and most of all, their losses.

The book's plot starts out a little slowly, but becomes gripping by the end. While it's very intellectual, it's also extremely hard to put down, which isn't an easy combination.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants something to sink their teeth into, or anyone looking for a great book to share with a book club.
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