Rating: 4 stars
Rating: 4 stars
Helen Thinks: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt is a story told from the point of view of Leo, a middle aged art critic, who one day buys a painting from an artist called Bill Wechsler. Through his feelings for the painting, both intrigued and yet disturbed, Leo finds himself coming close to the artist as well as to his wife, Lucille, who is a poet. Along with his own wife, Erica, the four become firm friends and are living in the same apartment block and having meals where they talk about art and their ideas. Their bond also happens to find them having boys, Matt and Mark, at approximately the same time. The book follows their lives as Bill falls in love with one of his models, Violet, and eventually leaves Lucille and Mark to live with her, through the death of Matt at a summer camp when is eleven years old, through the falter of Leo and Erica's marriage due to the tragedy and mist importantly, through how Leo's relationship with Mark becomes more important to him.
With a keen focus on not only the characters but each individual as an artist or an academic, Hustvedt has created characters that allow us to fall deeply into and find ourselves relating to and understanding as they try to find rationale in places where they could be no need for such thing. Each moment that causes their firm friendship to fall further apart can be felt as you read, your breath catching in your throat and your heart aching as you pray that things will sort itself in the end.
Much like Leo and the painting he bought, I happened to read this book because I was in the library and I was captured by the art on the front cover. It was an incredible, heartbreaking read that as the pages turned you found yourself wishing that it wouldn't mean you were nearing the end. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan or is looking for a new genre of book to try.