Book Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

December 18, 2013 Books to Read, Fiction, Something Light 4

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel PFiction (Released July, 2013)
Bottom Line: Read it.
Link to this book on Amazon

Plot Summary:
As Nate becomes a more well-known figure in the Brooklyn literary scene (due to the imminent release of his first novel), he struggles with women and his new found status. 

My Thoughts:
I am ashamed to say that I bought this book because one of the ex-Bachelor contestants tweeted (I guess I am admitting that I follow ex-Bachelor contestants on Twitter – how embarrassing!) that it was the most fascinating look into guys’ heads she’d ever read. I’m not sure I feel THAT strongly about it, but it was a pretty interesting take on a guy’s view of relationships and dating, especially in New York (“the world seemed populated […] by women whose careers […] no longer preoccupied them. No matter what they claimed, they seemed, in practice, to care about little except relationships.”).

Nate is a single, up and coming writer who is a player in the somewhat incestuous Brooklyn literary scene. He’s surrounded by his guy friends, ex-girlfriends, girls that are actual friends, and potential hook-ups (most of whom are fellow writers, of course). When he meets Hannah, one of his ex-girlfriend’s buddies, the relationship psychology begins in earnest.

The most entertaining parts of the book for me were certainly Nate’s (and his friends’) musings on why women act the way they do and how guys interpret women’s behavior. This book was a blaring lesson on how guys gain or lose interest in women pretty much based on whim…and how girls can sense this, leading them to become insecure, turning off the guy even more. And on the desperation for relationships that women think they keep well hidden….and men’s total lack of the same type of desperation. As Nate’s friend, Jason, says “as a rule, men want a reason to end a relationship, while women want a reason to keep it going”.

Nate also struggles with what he thinks he wants in a woman (“someone he liked as much as he desired”) with what he subconsciously wants (“there was always some distraction, a crisis or a fight or some fantastic scheme of hers” to keep him from getting bored). This theme picks up towards the end of the book and Nate’s attraction to crazy became somewhat irritating for me.

I was slightly annoyed by Nate and his friends constantly having pretentious intellectual discussions that don’t make much sense and go on far too long – feeding right into the cliche of “stimulating conversation by the intellectual literati”.

The other question I have is how a book written by a woman can perfectly capture the male view of relationships. Is this really how guys think or is this how she presumes guys think? I assume she did her research, but does that substitute for actual experience? Can women trust Nate’s perspective as real life lessons in dating?

I wouldn’t say it was the best fiction I’ve read this year or anything like that, but The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is an interesting take on relationships and a good pick if you’re looking for something light.

You May Also Like:
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
One Day by David Nicholls




4 Responses to “Book Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman”

    • admin

      I’ve only been married for about 5 years, so the dating scene (especially in NYC) is still relatively recent territory for me…this book for sure related to the experiences of my friends and me. With the exception of everyone being up and coming writers!

  1. Bellezza

    I skipped this book when it was offered to me for review; I thought the premise sounded awfully trite. Yet I’ve seen it cropping up on many “best of” lists I clueing, I think, The New Yorker’s. Hmmm, I guess I’m just too far past the mentality of the dating world. Or, perhaps, what goes on in the minds of men. 😉

    • admin

      I totally understand! I will say that this particular portrayal of the dating world seemed more realistic to me (having done the NYC dating scene in my twenties)…and less “chick lit” than many others’ I’ve read.

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