the guardian Fri 10 April 2009
There is a lot of chat in Hustvedt's new novel. Erik is a psychotherapist with some difficult clients, he's just divorced, and is falling for the young single mum, Miranda, in the flat below. His sister, Inga, was married to a famous writer, Max, who has recently died, and they chat about what it's like to be in love with a writer and how you kind of fall in love with them through their writing. And then there is Miranda's ex, who is stalking her but using the surreptitious photos he takes in an art exhibition, which kind of makes it OK. And Inga is sort of being blackmailed by one of Max's old lovers, which is distressing. This all, of course, happens in New York - mostly in Brooklyn - as they each weigh in with intelligent theories on the nature of their own dreams and on the morality of their own stories. And the miracle is that Hustvedt manages to make her characters engaging and her novel absorbing rather than irritating; this examining of our inner lives is what she does so well and makes reading her feel like such an intimate, personal treat.