What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
A Novel

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 10 Critic Reviews



A powerful and heartbreaking novel that chronicles the epic story of two families, two sons, and two marriages

What I Loved begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship.

Leo's story, which spans twenty-five years, follows the evolution of the growing involvement between his family and Bill's-an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men; their wives, Erica and Violet; and their children, Matthew and Mark. The families live in the same building in New York, share a house in Vermont during the summer, keep up a lively exchange of thoughts and ideas, and find themselves permanently altered by one another. Over the years, they not only enjoy love but endure loss-in one case sudden, incapacitating loss; in another, a different kind, one that is hidden and slow-growing, and which insidiously erodes the fabric of their lives.

Intimate in tone and seductive in its complexity, the novel moves seamlessly from inner worlds to outer worlds, from the deeply private to the public, from physical infirmity to cultural illness. Part family novel, part psychological thriller, What I Loved is a beautifully written exploration of love, loss, and betrayal-and of a man's attempt to make sense of the world and go on living.


About Siri Hustvedt

See more books from this Author
Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English literature and is the internationally acclaimed author of five novels, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Blindfold, and The Summer Without Men, as well as a growing body of nonfiction including, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle, and an interdisciplinary investigation of the body and mind in The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2011, she delivered the thirty-ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna.She lives in Brooklyn.
Published March 1, 2004 by Henry Holt and Co.. 386 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for What I Loved

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Leo tries to look out for the now fatherless Mark, who’s become a fixture of the downtown club scene and has nearly overdosed several times—but Leo had to back off after discovering Mark’s theft of $7,000 from him.

| Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

(This is not unapt: her narrator, Leo Hertzberg, is a professor of art history who has written a book called A Brief History of Seeing in Western Painting.) Her characters inhabit a rarefied world of SoHo art galleries and universities and are so preoccupied with interpreting their lives that you...

Jan 19 2003 | Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Violet - who is writing a dissertation about eating and hysteria in women - is kind, lively, beautiful and a loving stepmother.

Jan 11 2003 | Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

So muses Columbia University art historian Leo Hertzberg as he recalls the love affair between artist Bill ("Seeing is flux") Wechsler and his model/second wife, Violet, whom Leo secretly loves almost as much as his own wife, Erica.

| Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel


Set in New York City, the novel is told through the eyes of Leo Hertzberg, an art historian and critic, who haphazardly discovers a very striking painting to which he is compelled to find the contributing artist, a man by the name of Bill Weschler.

Jun 01 2011 | Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Downtown artsy types, living in an insular world of esoteric discussions and inaccessible work, are a New York City cliche.

Mar 21 2003 | Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

London Review of Books

12 · 19 June 2003 » Benjamin Markovits » You can’t get there from here A downloadable PDF version of this book review is also available for purchase from the London Review Bookshop.

| Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

For Books' Sake

If you're new here, you may want to sign up to our mailing list.

Jul 13 2011 | Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel


Siri Hustvedt's What I loved is both a moving elegy for the vibrant but long gone art scene of 1970s New York and a meditation on the shattering effects of time and tragedy on two couples whose lives become intertwined.

Aug 04 2003 | Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

Curtis Brown

Both Leo Hertzberg, an art historian, and Bill Weschler, a painter, are cultured, decent men, but neither is equipped to deal with what happens to their children - Leo's son drowns when he's 12, while Bill's son Mark grows up to be a delinquent, and the acolyte of a sinister, guru-like artist who...

| Read Full Review of What I Loved: A Novel

Reader Rating for What I Loved

An aggregated and normalized score based on 110 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review