Sunday, 4 March 2018

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

"From where I sat opposite Bill, he looked to me like the Byronic ideal of male beauty"

This is one of those rare occasions when the hyperbolic quotes on the cover are completely accurate. I've had this sitting on my to be read pile for quite some time now and I deliberated over starting it because I thought an art world drama might be a little too cerebral. I had no notion of how striking the writing would be. I was totally drawn into Leo's world and felt like I was experiencing his life first hand.

The novel is split in three and they mirror very different stages in the main character's life. Art historian, Leo buys a painting of a woman that leads to a friendship with the artist that will see their lives inextricably linked. Whether it be lustful urges or the realisation of the depth of paternal love he feels at the birth of his son Matthew, I was swept up in the tale. The minutia of daily life was delivered in such a palpable fashion.

The second volume completely floored me with its tragic event and the aftermath of it. I feel it would be way too much of a spoiler to go into detail. You'll just have to read it to see what happens.

Feeling despondent, I moved on to the final section and wow. A heady mix of deception, paranoia and suspense as Leo's interaction with Bill's son, Mark takes centre stage in the drama. Is he a psychopath? Has there been a murder? What is the deal with the artist, Teddy Giles? So many questions that kept the pages turning at a quickening pace. This is one worthy inclusion on the 1001 books to read before you die list.

5 out of 5, nothing but love for it.

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