Ayelet Waldman: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (2006)

I was so curious to read this. I had heard such a lot about Ayelet Waldman and most of it was fuelled by hate. I still do not understand this at all. Just because she questions motherhood? Because she admits, it is no picnic? Be it as it may, I really liked this book. It just swipes you away.

Emilia is married to the love of her life, Jack, but she is not his first wife. And there is also William, his son from his first marriage. A precocious and at times obnoxious child. Emilia cannot handle him and cannot handle her guilt either. Guilt that she was the reason Jack broke up with his wife Caroline, and guilt because she feels responsible for the death of her daughter Isabel who died on her first day home from the hospital just after she was born. This grief and her guilt overshadows everything. And the fact that her father left her mother for a young Russian prostitute.

A lot of heavy stuff but the prose is very light and funny enough this book is never depressing. I found it extremely interesting. It is also a portrait of the city of New York and a description of what it is like to be a mother in New York. Many things that probably only a New Yorker knows, like urbanbaby.com, the running moms of Central Park, A Walk to Remember. Movies and books about New York hold a special appeal for me. This one is no exception. I loved to read these insider descriptions of  walks and places that you would visit with a kid or on your own.

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits is a book that will engage you, make you think, make you wanna discuss it. It is courageous and tackles topics that are of great importance to everybody. Even to women like me who have no children.

It is really worth reading and I do also feel tempted to watch the movie.

Some questions that would be interesting to discuss:

How difficult is it to be a stepmother?

Can there ever be a conflict-free patchwork family?

How do you survive the death of your child?

Is it easier to lose a child when it is a bit older?

Is it better to share your feelings with people who have been through the same or should you see a counselor?

Would you want to replace your dead child?

Should you give him/her a name?

There are many, many more… A lot of food for thought as you can see.