I really like Siri Hustvedt as a novelist. I started with A Summer without Men and moved to The Blazing World, which was just incredible. What I Loved is one of her most famous, and I was eager to read that. Last year, crystalclear got me this book, and I was happy to put it on my TBR shelf. Now that I have read it, I can get to the review! Hooray!
Hustvedt writes from a male protagonist’s perspective this time. Leo is an academic who befriends a young painter. What follows is the decades-long unfolding of their friendship and the loves and losses that ensue. To say much more is to give away the novel itself, and I don’t want to do that. This isn’t necessarily a shocking book, though there are a few twists and turns along the way. Rather, this is an exploration of the journey itself. Hustvedt takes you through a life. The title itself is thematic: what I loved. It shows how love connects the self to other people and breaks or changes when circumstances differ greatly in a person’s life. And the theme of friendship becomes crucial, particularly during moments of intense testing.
Because I’d read two more openly feminist novels before this one, I’d associated Hustvedt as a strictly feminist and woman-centric writer. It’s not unpleasant to read her male protagonist, though it was certainly a little more startling. The characters who people the novel are interesting and provocative, though there is one young man who drove me nuts. You’ll know him when you meet him.
Cross-posted to my blog.