Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

( 47 )

Overview

In this moving, wry, and candid novel, widely acclaimed novelist Ayelet Waldman takes us through one woman’s passage through love, loss, and the strange absurdities of modern life.

Emilia Greenleaf believed that she had found her soulmate, the man she was meant to spend her life with. But life seems a lot less rosy when Emilia has to deal with the most neurotic and sheltered five-year-old in New York City: her new stepson William. Now Emilia finds herself trying to flag down ...

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Overview

In this moving, wry, and candid novel, widely acclaimed novelist Ayelet Waldman takes us through one woman’s passage through love, loss, and the strange absurdities of modern life.

Emilia Greenleaf believed that she had found her soulmate, the man she was meant to spend her life with. But life seems a lot less rosy when Emilia has to deal with the most neurotic and sheltered five-year-old in New York City: her new stepson William. Now Emilia finds herself trying to flag down taxis with a giant, industrial-strength car seat, looking for perfect, strawberry-flavored, lactose-free cupcakes, receiving corrections on her French pronunciation from her supercilious stepson – and attempting to find balance in a new family that’s both larger, and smaller, than she bargained for. In Love and Other Impossible Pursuits Ayelet Waldman has created a novel rich with humor and truth, perfectly characterizing one woman’s search for answers in a crazily uncertain world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A romantic, shocking . . . page-turner [that] actually says something new and interesting about women, families and love.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Absorbing. . . . Compelling and artfully drawn. . . . The novel is beautifully paced and unfolds seamlessly.” –The Washington Post

“A smart and finally affecting portrayal of a woman working her way out of her own grandiose self-image into something like real love.” –New York

“The emotions Waldman instills in her protagonist are visceral and convincing. . . . [Emilia’s] always sharp, wickedly funny, opinionated and cheerfully bitter, lending depth and energy to this wise, entertaining book.” –San Francisco Chronicle

Chelsea Cain
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits is clearly out to irritate some Mommy groups. It may also be the first chick-lit novel (it features, after all, a young career woman who falls in love with her boss, shops and worries about her relationships) that in addition to being a romantic, shocking and sometimes painful page-turner does the unthinkable: it actually says something new and interesting about women, families and love.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
How a five-year-old manages to make the adults in his life hew to the love he holds for them is the sweet treat in this honest, brutal, bitterly funny slice of life. When Emelia's day-old daughter, Isabel, succumbs to SIDS, her own life stalls. She can't work; she can't sleep; Central Park, once her personal secret garden, now is a minefield of happy mother-child dyads. Since Isabel's death, husband Jack's only solace for the guilt of breaking up his sexless marriage with Carolyn for Emelia's (now-absent) passion and love is joint custody of William, now five. What Emelia cannot bear most are Wednesdays, when she must cross the park to collect William at the 92nd Street Y preschool and take another shot at stepmotherhood. Carolyn, William's furious mother and a renowned Upper East Side OB/GYN, lives to nab Emelia for mistakes in handling him. Carolyn's indicting phone calls raise the already sky-high tension in Jack and Emelia's home, but they don't compare with Carolyn's announcement that, at age 42, she is pregnant. The news pushes Emelia to confess to Jack two things she shouldn't. William is charmingly realized, and Waldman (Daughter's Keeper) has upper bourgeois New York down cold. The result is a terrific adult story. (Feb. 21) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Emilia is not the type of woman to fall in love with a married man, but she does. As a new attorney, she lands a job with a prestigious firm and meets Jack the first day of work. One thing leads to another, and soon Jack leaves his wife to marry her. Of course, things are not simple: not only does she get a new husband but also a new stepson, William, highly intelligent and slightly obsessive. Emilia attempts to bond with William, but he doesn't make it easy. One afternoon as Emilia picks him up from preschool, he takes aim at her sore spot, suggesting she sell the baby things since she isn't going to be using them. Emilia is still coping with the death of Isabel, the two-day-old baby she had with Jack. Throw into the mix a stormy relationship with her own mother and father, and this tale of family troubles grows more intriguing. Waldman, who writes the Mommy-Track mystery series, offers an entertaining standalone novel that looks at how a stepmother copes with this role while trying to become a mother herself. For most public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/05.]-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400095131
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/9/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 393,742
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayelet Waldman
Ayelet (pronounced "I yell it") Waldman is the author of Daughter's Keeper and of the Mommy-Track mystery series. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, Child magazine, and other publications, and she has a regular column on Salon.com. She and her husband, the novelist Michael Chabon, live in Berkeley, California, with their four children. www.ayeletwaldman.com

Biography

Some writers make it all look too easy. Take Ayelet Waldman, for example. The first novel she ever wrote -- heck, the first piece of creative writing she ever attempted -- was not only published, but it launched the successful Mommy-Track mystery series. Six years and eight novels later, Waldman is still wowing fans and critics alike while occasionally moving into more serious territory.

Waldman is most famous for her witty Mommy-Track mysteries, which follow the adventures of Juliet Applebaum. Like her creator, Juliet Applebaum is a former-public defender now playing the role of stay-at-home mom Unlike Waldman, Juliet breaks up her days of parenting with a little amateur sleuthing on the side. Waldman explained the origin of her beloved series during an interview at UC Berkley in 2004. "They grew out of this period in my life when I had left the public defender's office and I was staying home; I started writing them to keep myself entertained."

The novel that Waldman essentially wrote on a self-entertaining lark -- Nursery Crimes -- became the first in a series of lighthearted mysteries that clearly struck a chord among the writer's peers. "I think they kind of hit the market at a time that there were a lot of women like me," Waldman explained. "A lot of ex-lawyers, ex-doctors, ex-CEOs of companies who were finding themselves straight from the boardroom to the sandbox and kind of going crazy, so there was a ready audience for people who were not necessarily all that fulfilled by making homemade play-dough, but nonetheless realized where they were gonna be for the next couple of years."

After the initial four books in the Mommy-Track series (which included such tongue-in-cheek titles as The Big Nap and A Playdate With Death), Waldman decided to use her newfound literary success as an opportunity to try her hand at a non-series novel. "The more I wrote," she said, "the more I realized that [writing] was something that I really loved to do and I wanted to do more with it. I wanted to grow as a writer and I wanted to start writing more serious fiction." Daughter's Keeper, a tale that sheds some critical light on the War on Drugs, revealed that she was more than capable of handling heavier subject matter. As Publishers Weekly noted: "Waldman's passion and affection for her characters shines through."

Having broken into a new realm of writing, Waldman then delivered two more installments in the Juliet Applebaum adventures before penning her second non-series novel. Like all of her previous works, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits addresses Waldman's favorite subject, motherhood, but this time around she also touches on the grittier issues of grief and death. Once again, Waldman's foray outside of her popular series has proved a resounding success. In Chelsea Cain's laudatory review in The New York Times, she described Love and Other Impossible Pursuits as "a romantic, shocking and sometimes painful page-turner does the unthinkable: it actually says something new and interesting about women, families and love."

While more Mommy-Track mysteries are likely on the way from the prolific Waldman, the side roads she has taken thus far confirm that she is a writer willing to defy expectations.

In addition...
Waldman is also noted for the controversy that followed the publication of her 2005 essay "Motherlove." The essay, first published in the anthology Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race and Themselves, sparked a heated national debate about the nature of love, marriage, and motherhood.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Waldman:

"My children are my inspiration. I write about mothers, and about maternal ambivalence. No matter what I set out to do, it seems, I end up writing about that. My four kids have veto power on anything I write about them, but the only time it's ever been exercised is when my eight-year-old told me never to write about breastfeeding him ever again, as long as he and I both walked the earth."

"My husband and I both edit one another's work. Nothing leaves the house that the other hasn't gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

"Nursery Crimes, my first murder mystery, was the first piece of fiction -- the first piece of creative writing -- I ever did.

"I have no hobbies, other than reading. I love to read, and on my web site I keep a log of every book I read, along with a few words about the book and about what I thought. Check it out at www.ayeletwaldman.com

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    1. Hometown:
      Berkeley, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 11, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      Jerusalem, Israel
    1. Education:
      Wesleyan University, 1986; Harvard Law School, 1991
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Usually, if I duck my head and walk briskly, I can make it past the playground at West Eighty-first Street. I start preparing in the elevator, my eyes on the long brass arrow as it ticks down from the seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth floor. Sometimes the elevator stops and one of my neighbors gets on, and I have no choice but to crack the carapace of my solitude, and pretend civility. If it's one of the younger ones, the guitar player with the brush of red hair and the peeling skin, say, or the movie executive in the rumpled jeans and the buttery leather coat, it's enough to muster a polite nod of the head. The older ones require more. The steel-haired women in the self-consciously bohemian dresses, folds of purple peeping from under the hems of black wool capes, demand conversation about the weather, or the spot of wear on the Oriental carpet runner in the lobby, or the front page of the arts section. That is quite nearly too much to bear, because don't they see that I am busy? Don't they realize that obsessive self-pity is an all-consuming activity that leaves no room for conversation? Don't they know that the entrance to the park lies right next to the Eighty-first Street playground and that if I am not completely prepared, if I do not clear my mind, stop my ears to all sounds other than my own breathing, it is entirely possible--likely even--that instead of striding boldly past the playground with my eyes on the bare gray branches of the trees, I will collapse outside the playground gate, the shrill voices of the children keening in my skull? Don't they understand, these ladies with their petitions and their dead banker husbands and bulky Tod's purses, that if I let them distract me with talk of Republicans stealing elections or whether Mrs. Katz from 2B saw Anthony the new doorman asleep behind the desk last Tuesday night, I will not make it past the playground to the refuge of the park beyond? Don't they get that the barbaric assault of their voices, the impatient thumping of their Lucite canes as they wait insistently for my mumbled replies, will prevent me from getting to the only place in the entire city where I am able to approximate serenity? They will force me instead to trudge along the Seventy-ninth Street Transverse, pressed against the grimy stone walls, inhaling exhaust fumes from crosstown buses all the way to the East Side. Or worse, they will force me to take a cab.

Today, thank God, the elevator is empty all the way to the lobby.

"Have a nice walk, Mrs. Woolf," Ivan says as he holds the door open for me.

That started the day after our wedding. The first few times I tried to explain that I was still Ms. Greenleaf. I know Ivan understood. He's not an idiot. But he merely smiled, nodded, and said, "Of course, Ms. Greenleaf," and then greeted me with a "Good morning, Mrs. Woolf," the next day. At least it was better than when I'd first moved in with Jack. Then I had muttered something like, "Oh, no, please call me Emilia." Ivan hadn't even bothered to smile and nod. He had stared at me from behind his thick black glasses, shaken his head as if he were my fifth-grade teacher and I'd disappointed him by forgetting my homework or, worse, using foul language in class. "No, Ms. Greenleaf," he had said. That was all. Not "I couldn't," or "I wouldn't feel right." Just, "No." Because of course he would never call someone in the building by her first name; it was appalling to have suggested it at all.

Today I smile, nod, and walk out the door and across the street to the park.

February is the longest month of the year.

Winter has been on us for so very long and spring seems like it might never come. The sky is gray and thick with clouds, the kind of clouds that menace the city, threatening not Christmas postcard snow, or a downpour of cold clean rain, but bitter needles that immediately melt the snow, so that it feels like what is coming down from the sky is actually yellow-gray slush. The sidewalks are banked by mounds of black-fringed snow and every step off the curb is a game of Russian roulette which might end with glacial black water sloshing around your ankle, soaking your sock and shoe. Normally I hunker down; I build fires in the fireplace, wrap myself in chenille throws and wool socks, reread Jane Austen, and will the short, dark days to creep by more quickly. This year, however, I long to embrace the unrelenting grimness of New York in February. This year I need February. Even now, at the end of January, it is as if the city has noticed my dejection and proceeded to prove its commiseration. The trees in the park seem particularly bare; they poke at the dreary sky with lifeless branches that have lost not just their leaves but the very hope of leaves. The grass has turned brown and been kicked away, leaving a mire covered by a scrim of dog-shit-spotted ice. The Bridle Path and the path along the Reservoir are muddy and have buckled in places, gnarled roots and knots marring the once smooth surfaces and tripping up the fleece-clad runners.

But the Diana Ross Playground is full of children. New York children will play outside in all weather, except the most inclement, their nannies and mothers desperate to escape the confines of even the most spacious apartments. On the dreariest winter day, when the swings are wet enough to soak water-repellent snow pants right through, when the expensive, cushiony ground cover is frozen to a bone-breaking hardness, when the last bit of metal left in the meticulously childproofed playground is cold enough to cause a plump pink tongue to stick fast to it, until an unflappable Dominican nanny pours the last inch of a Starbucks mocha over the joined bit of flesh and teeter-totter, the kids are there, screaming their little-kid screams and laughing their little-kid laughs. I quicken my step until I am galumphing along at an ungainly jog, my extra weight pounding into my widened hips, my bones aching with every jarring thump of heel to path.

I allow myself to slow to a gasping walk as soon as the children's voices fade into the background hum of the rest of the park. In the summer Central Park sounds like the countryside--or a version of the countryside where birdsong competes with the hiss of skateboard wheels on cement and with the flutes of Peruvian buskers playing Andean melodies as interpreted by Simon and Garfunkel. In the spring, when the cherry trees are in full blush and the hillocks around Sheep Meadow are covered in yellow daffodils, it is easy to love Central Park. In the summer, when the Shakespeare Garden is a tangle of blossoms and wedding ceremonies and you cannot walk two feet without stumbling over a bank of asters or a dog playing Frisbee, loving Central Park is a breeze. In the winter, though, the pigeons fly under the naked elms, keeping close to where the conscientious, lonely old ladies with their paper bags of bread crusts congregate on the snow-dampened benches of the Mall. In the winter, the park is left to those of us whose love is most true, those of us who don't need swags and fringes of wisteria, those of us for whom snow-heavy black locust trees, mud-covered hills, and the sound of the wind creaking through bare branches are enough. I have always understood that it is in the escape provided by these 843 acres that real beauty lies. The pastel Mardi Gras of spring and summer and the brilliant burnt reds and oranges of autumn are just foofaraw.

I cut north to the trail along the Reservoir. There is one more playground in my path, but it is far enough away that I can keep my eyes averted from the Lincoln Log play structure and the red-and-yellow slide. It is late for the mommies with jogging strollers, and if my luck holds I will miss them entirely. Last Wednesday I left a couple of hours early, to meet a friend who had decided that a morning of shoe shopping would bounce me out of my despondency, would turn me back into someone whose company she enjoyed. Mindy did not, of course, say that. Mindy said that her husband had given her a pair of Manolo Blahniks for her birthday in the size she had led him to believe that she wore, and she needed to see if the store carried the shoe in a ten and a half.

On that day, I came upon a whole row of new mothers crouched down in back of their strollers, their postpartum-padded behinds thrust out, their hands gripping the handles as they rose up to their toes and then squatted back down, cooing all the while to their well-bundled infants who squawked, laughed, or slept in $750 strollers, Bugaboo Frogs just like the one parked in the hallway outside our apartment, next to the spindly table with the silk orchids. The blue denim Bugaboo that kicks me in the gut every time I stand waiting for the elevator. They squatted and rose in unison, this group of mommies, and none of them said a word when I stopped in front of them and grunted as if I'd been punched. They looked at me, and then back at each other, but no one spoke, not when I started to cry, and not when I turned and ran, back along the path, past the first playground and then the second, and then back out onto Central Park West.

Today I am lucky. The mommies have stayed in, or are sharing a post-workout latte. I don't see one until I am on the Bridle Path on the East Side. She runs by me so fast that I barely have time to register the taut balls of her calves pumping in shiny pink running pants, her ears covered in matching fur earmuffs. The babies in her double jogging stroller are tiny purple mounds, pink noses, and then gone. Too fast to cause me anything but a momentary blaze of pain.

At Ninetieth Street, having made it safely and sanely across the park, I look at my watch. Shit. I am late, again, with only five minutes to make it up to Ninety-second and then all the way across to Lex. I quicken my pace, pinching my waist against the stitch in my side. The tails of my long coat flap against my legs, and with my other hand I do my best to hold the coat closed. I can button it now, but it looks dreadful, my thick torso straining against the buttons, causing the fabric to gape. While I'm not vain enough to buy a new winter coat--I will not spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of clothing I am bound and determined not to need a month from now--I am sufficiently self-conscious to leave the coat open, counting on a thick scarf to keep out the bitter damp.

It is not until I run around the white fence barriers and the cement planters, show my ID card at the security desk, pass through the metal detector, and am shifting from foot to foot in front of the bank of elevators that I remember that I have set my watch forward fifteen minutes for this very reason, so I will not be late again, so that Carolyn will not have yet another reason to call Jack and berate him for my capricious negligence, my disregard for her and all she holds sacred. I feel myself deflate, as if the only thing keeping me buoyant was my agitation and anxiety. By the time the elevator arrives I am tiny, I am shrunken to the size of a mouse, I am the smallest person in the 92nd Street Y.

A claque of women follows me into the elevator. Two are pregnant; one holds a baby strapped to her chest in a black leather Baby Bjšrn infant carrier. The last pushes a Bugaboo stroller identical to the one parked outside my apartment. Because of course the irony is that for all my expertise as the preeminent cartographer of a childfree Central Park, my very destination is into the belly of the beast. My goal, my journey's end, is the 92nd Street Y Nursery School.

All this fecundity would have stopped me dead in my tracks had I stumbled upon it in the park. Central Park is my refuge, and its invasion by the baby brigade enrages and devastates me. At the preschool, however, I am used to a certain quality and quantity of misery. I have never been anything but uncomfortable and unhappy here. To be reduced to tears in the elevator by the milk-drunk flush of an infant's cheek is pretty much par for the course.

The women in the elevator acknowledge my presence with the barest nod, precisely the nod I give those of my neighbors who permit me this coldness. I respond in kind and affix my eyes to the lighted buttons over the elevator door, clocking our progress up through the building to the sixth floor.

The hallway of the preschool is decorated, as always, in brilliantly colored children's artwork that changes with every Jewish holiday. Now it is Tu B'Shevat that we are celebrating, and the children have painted various kinds of trees. The hallway trumpets the school's celebrated student-teacher ratio. It evidences sure and patient guidance, a wellspring of inventive and carefully educated creativity, and an art supply budget rivaling that of the School of Visual Arts. I scan the paintings, looking to see if William has done one. He is an adept artist for his age, is William. He has inherited his mother's agile and delicate fingers. He draws mostly seascapes: fish and octopi, multi-fanged sharks and moray eels. His latest is displayed outside his classroom. William, it turns out, is the only child who has failed to honor the birthday of the trees. At first I think his picture is nothing more than a huge scribble of red crayon, but when I lean in to take a closer look I see that on the bottom of the page William has drawn a rainbow-colored parrot fish. The parrot fish is lying on its side because a swordfish has torn a hole in its belly. The red overlying the scene is blood spurting from the fish's wounds. Perhaps the picture is meant to be an allegory, and the parrot fish to symbolize the Jewish people should they fail to recognize their connection to the land. But I doubt it.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. What were your initial impressions of Emilia? In what way did your image of her change as you learned more about her? As she narrates, is she always honest with us and with herself? How does she balance humor and intensity when describing what it’s like to be a woman on the edge?

2. Discuss the many forms of love described in the novel. Is love ever a truly impossible pursuit? What factors make it seem that way to Emilia?

3. How does Emilia cope with being a pariah among the other preschool parents? What are the criteria within this community for determining whether a woman is a good mother? What purpose does their competitive attitude serve? What does Sonia seem to think about the culture of American mommyhood?

4. What does Emilia’s own mother teach her about being a parent? How does Emilia’s mom compare to Jack’s mother from Syria?

5. Discuss the author’s choice of New York, and Central Park in particular, as the backdrop for much of the novel. How does Emilia perceive the wonders and dangers of this locale? What fragments of her childhood can she revive in the park?

6. Is the tension between Jack and Emilia solely related to the loss of Isabel and the presence of a testy ex-wife? How might the early months of their marriage have gone in the absence of such agonies? Did their relationship change very much as they went from being lovers to being spouses?

7. What seems to account for the vast differences between Emilia and her sister Allison? Out of the many parenting styles presented in the novel, which seems to be the ideal? In what way are parenting styles reflective of an adult’s overall outlook on life, as much as his or her concern for a child? How do you personally determine when a level of caution has become irrational and unrealistic?

8. What do you make of William’s seemingly nonchalant response to tragedy, such as loudly announcing the absence of the Twin Towers while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge? What do children see (or not see) compared to adults? What did you make of his attempts to draw a family picture and his depiction of Isabel as an angel?

9. Do you agree with Jack’s assertion that Emilia married him because she was trying to become her father? Do you believe his statement that he married Carolyn because he loved her? Do you agree with his friends who believe that age had everything to do with his attraction to Emilia? What ultimately is the basis for deep romantic attraction?

10. What keeps Emilia from experiencing the Walk to Remember in the same way that the other families experience it? Does the walk nonetheless have healing results for her?

11. After her blowout argument with Jack, Emilia takes refuge in her best friend, Simon, and a jaunt to Barneys. What makes her friendship with Simon such a lasting one? Why is she in some ways more comfortable with him than with Mindy? Why is Simon the ideal person to accompany her as she faces her new waistline while shopping?

12. How significant is Judaism to Emilia’s identity? How do she and William contend with issues of spiritual traditions? What other elements shape Emilia’s sense of self?

13. How would you characterize Emilia’s father? Do you empathize with his ex-wife’s desire to rekindle a romance with him?

14. Do Emilia and William share any common personality traits? Is she genuinely reckless or insensitive to his needs? Why is it so easy for Jack to believe the accusations that Emilia is not fit to care for his son?

15. What motivates Carolyn to provide Emilia with pathological evidence that Isabel’s cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? Were you happy to see Carolyn achieve happiness in the end with a man who seems suited to her and a baby on the way?

16. Emilia gets her hands on numerous guides to stepparenting and even pays a visit to William’s therapist. What wisdom does Love and Other Impossible Pursuits offer stepparents?

17. At the end of the novel, Emilia confirms her father’s advice about rational thinking; she says that mystical ideas and hopes interfered with her marriage to Jack. Do you agree with her? Is the concept of bashert, the notion of meant-to-be, unrealistic?

(Discussion questions courtesy of Doubleday.)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

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(19)

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Likable book.

    After seeing the book cover I knew I needed to pick this book up. The overall storyline was very well thought out. I enjoy reading books where I can put myself into the story line. This book fell in to that category. I opened up my heart, and now have a new compassion for step mothers. However, I felt the book was written in a very wordy way. At times left me feeling over informed, after reading and reading and reading about one subject you want the subject to just change. I felt like the writer got the point across but she continued to explain unnecessary details. She could have used fewer words to just get the general idea in the reader's head. I found that I was exhausted of even thinking about what she was saying because she went on and on about one thing. I enjoyed this book but would have preferred an shorter explanation of some of the situations.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    This book was so good! I loved every bit of it, it was very inte

    This book was so good! I loved every bit of it, it was very intense and hard to put down. I knew I had to read it after seeing the movie that is based off of the book, The Other Woman. I definitely recommend both!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    outstanding fiction

    Truly enjoyable read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Loved this book!

    I saw the movie version of this book first. I thought the movie was excellent, so I was prepared to not enjoy the book as much (which seems to be how I typically respond to seeing the movie first and then reading the book). Not so for this book. It was well-written, and Ayelet Waldman's Emilia is a very realistic protagonist. She is flawed to be sure, but that's why it's so easy to relate to her. Emilia's story is one that you expect to end as badly as she has behaved at times, and it's that expectation that makes some of Emilia's heartbreaks easier to handle. My only complaint is that Waldman often seemed to be showing off her giant vocabulary. There were lots of extra adjectives added when simpler language would have sufficed. Overused the thesaurus a bit, in my opinion.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good

    It really took me a while to fully understand the depth of this story. The plot is very sad and drawn out. The ending is by far the best and ost meaninful part.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    Overlong Chick Lit

    If you like Chick Lit, you may find this to be a good read. I found the characterizations shallow, the plot rather predictable, and nobody I'd want to meet. I'm not into plot manipulations to force a "happily ever after" ending. Nor am I into glib psychoanalytic explanations for people's behavior.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Book!

    I found this book by chance, while browsing the shelves at my local library, and am I glad I decided to read it. I loved this book from the first page - I could not put it down...read it standing on the subway platform, during my subway ride, during lunch, and I stayed up much too late so that I could keep reading. I'm now reading Daughter's Keeper because I enjoyed this book so much.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read!

    This story is so real and easy to relate to. Being a divorced woman dating a man with 2 children I totally related to the story. The author writes in a way that is easy to follow and very realistic. I look forward to reading other books this author as this was my first.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    GREAT BOOK

    ANYONE WHO HAS DEALT WITH AN EX-WIFE OR A STEP-CHILD WILL LIKE THIS BOOK.
    THE AUTHOR HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD. IF YOU HAVE EVER DEALT WITH A SMOTHER MOTHER AND A DIFFICULT CHILD YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK ALSO DEALS WITH THE LOSS OF A CHILD. IT DEALS WITH THE LOSS, ANGER AND RELATIONSHIP WITH SPOUSE, FAMILY AND FRIENDS. THE MAIN CHARACTER IS WONDERFUL AND SHE WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH AND CRY AT THE SAME TIME. HER QUICK WIT WILL KEEP YOU GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE END. YOU WILL WANT MORE!

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Little Dark

    I found this book to be a little dark, not for the closed-minded reader, but I think it is a great story. The main character is dealing with the loss of a child, and has feelings of resentment toward her step-son that many would find controversial, but I thought were understandable considering her misfortune. The book follows the character through the multiple stages of grief and healing. I recommend this to anyone who has every experienced such a loss.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    If you've ever loved and known love's complications, been a stepparent and known its complexities, or enjoyed Central Park and been amazed by its variety, this is a book for you. It's one of those novels that's so wonderful you don't want to put it down - so wonderful that you don't want it to end. Ah - we should only have more quandries like this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2006

    Hard to put down

    This is the first time I've read Waldman. Her other books are part of a 'mommy-track' series that is off my radar. I loved this book. The central character, Emilia, is full of mystical thinking that often gets in the way of real life. This is another book that I had a hard time putting down. On the days I work I get up at 4AM. Last night I stayed up until 11PM to finish this page-turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2006

    Highly recommended

    I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down. I enjoy reading about relationships and motherhood and that is exactly what this book is about. Also, having lived in NYC for three years, I really enjoyed the fact that this story takes place there. The descriptions of NYC surroundings and the life that Emilia lives there were great. This book was very touching, sad and funny at different times. A great summer read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2006

    This was one of the greatest books I've ever read!

    This book was not only touching & heart warming but also hilarious. It really makes one think about things in a different way. It was in a word 'excellent'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2006

    Wonderfully real

    As much as I love the 'Mommy-Track' mysteries, this stand-alone novel is even better. It was sweet and real, with flawed characters about whom I cared deeply.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2006

    Beautiful

    I couldn't put this book down and wish it didn't have to end. The characters were human and relateable. Beautifully written, with humor and sensitivity. I loved every minute with these wonderfully flawed and loving characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2006

    A great read!

    I loved Daughter's Keeper and was really looking forward to a new novel by this author. I, for one, was not disappointed. She is a very talented writer and I found myself loving Emelia one minute and wanting to smack her the next. The characters were so real. I didn't want the story to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    A Study in Denial

    This is a saga of love, divorce, anger, pain and loss. It touches on many areas in contempary living that exists in all our lives. Some deal with it better, than others. The characters here are so focused on achieving and getting through their responsibilities that they deny their true selfs and pay the price. It seems at first there are three adults and one child in this saga, but as the story continues, it appears the child has more adult tendancies than the adults. Not facing the problems that exist force the adults into extreme situations. But, they increase each time they are ignored and only get to the stage where something has to give. These people are quite real and you will recognize at least one that you know or have known or perhaps will know. While not the best traits we possess, these people do redeem themselves before it is too late. While the 'goodness' factor seems a bit much for the actions that have occurred, it is a well done, readable novel that has merit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2006

    Read It And Weep

    I was familiar with the author, Ayelet Waldman through her 'Mommy-Track' mysteries. If you have not read this series, treat yourself!! 'Love And Other Impossible Pursuits' is in a class by itself. I could not put this book down ! You care deeply about all of the characters -- especially William. It is a book about life, love, relationships, grace and second chances. Treat yourself and a loved one--- buy two copies!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2006

    A tender and painfully beautiful story

    Love & Other Possible Pursuits could have been trite and stereotypical. It¿s not any of those things. It¿s a pleasure to read: provocative, poetic and acerbic, well paced and completely believeable. Ms. Waldman encapsulates, within the small sphere in which her characters move, the best of New Yorkers and the worst. Her characters reminded me of not any one but so many people I knew and know there. Her writing makes them real and human, whether we come to like them or not, whether we agree or sympathize. The story illustrates a facet of our culture, timely and timeless at the same time, that is both sophisticated and simple and through it all, weaves her magic within a personal glimpse of the amazing beauty of Central Park.

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