Siri Hustvedt shows how multifaceted she is in this book. This not come as a surprise, as she has always said that she has made several working papers and studies in psychology and psychiatry. And she demonstrates her knowledge in this field in What I love. This is a wonderful book, where a fine writing gets mixed with an unbelievable story. A story that goes deep down into the characters, exploring love, divorce, art, mental health and grief.
Leo Hertzber is an historian living in New York. He meets his best friend Bill Wechsler when he falls in love with one of his paintings. They get to meet years later, establishing a close friendship, a strong bond that extends to their partners and sons, born on the same year. They live in the same building, and all the family and friendship relations get mixed up because not only their proximity, but also because of their strong personalities. Grief strikes the Hertzber and then the Wechsler, both in different manners but both causing several damage.
The way Leo narrates his life is impacting, not for the things he said that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes so meaningful, and sometimes shocking, but the point is the softness in his observations, far away from judgement. He gets deeply involved in the life of everyone, he tries to save the day, to realise at the end that nobody can do it. And then, he backs off, again with impartiality, despite his own pain and his own loses.
Mark, the son of Bill and Lucille is the antihero of the story. In the scariest way I could have known. He is mentally unstable, firstly at a point that nobody notices, especially Bill and Leo, and this costed them so much. But from the second part of the novel other characters get involved in Mark’s life, developing that evilness faster and clearer. He was destructive and unstoppable, however, not even with all the events that this brought to Leo’s life, he stopped being the good human being he was.
This is a book full of drama, the knowledge of the author permeates every chapter and elevates this reading to another level.
A book 100% recommended