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The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Novel Hardcover – July 16, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (July 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805097457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805097450
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this sharply written first novel, Waldman homes in on a self-absorbed writer living in New York City. Nate Piven is still basking in the glow of having sold his first book after years of struggling to support himself with freelance work. His newfound success has given his love life a boost, and a number of women are pursuing him, including his beautiful ­ex-girlfriend Elisa and brainy Hannah, also a writer. As Hannah and Nate’s relationship gets more serious, Nate is quick to blame any communication snafus on Hannah, whose calm and self-­confidence begin to evaporate. Although Nate thinks of himself as enlightened, a product of a postfeminist, 1980s childhood and a politically correct, 1990s college education, his actions continually belie that self-image. Nate is constantly jockeying for status among his friends and critiquing women’s bodies, clothes, and looks even as he tries to figure out why his relationships never last. The novel is most likely to appeal to twentysomethings, who will no doubt recognize the preening male so thoroughly skewered here, but older readers may be put off by such an unlikable lead character. --Joanne Wilkinson


A Los Angeles Times Bestseller; Time Out New York Critics’ Pick; GQ’s "Best Debut Novel of the Summer"; Bookish Best Debut of the year; People Magazine Great Summer Read; Maureen Corrigan of Fresh Air’s "Debut Novel of the year"; Chicago Tribune Highlights of 2013 (Nara Schoenberg); Fiction Advocate "Books that mattered in 2013"

"I inhaled this slim novel; now, I want to go back and read it again, to savor Waldman's mordant take on work, love and cannibalism among the up-and-coming Brooklyn intelligentsia…. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is a sharp and assured tale about a sharp and assured young man, who often acts like a dog." —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

"Waldman’s brilliant taxonomy of homo erectus brooklynitis. I’m making [my daughter] read The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. in exchange for paying off her student loans. Not that she’ll need much persuading…. Neither chick lit nor lad lit, The Love Affairs... attains something like the universal truths an older female writer articulated by recording the antics of a group of genteel folk in early 19th-century Bath." —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"[A] pitch-perfect debut… In the demure tradition of the comedy of manners, Ms. Waldman is rarely mocking or mean-spirited.... A comic performance you shouldn't miss."—The Wall Street Journal

"A smart, engaging 21st-century comedy of manners in which the debut novelist Adelle Waldman crawls convincingly around inside the head of one Nathaniel (Nate) Piven." –Jess Walter, The New York Times Book Review

"Incisive and very funny… This is an impressive book, full of sharp and amusing observations about urban life, liberal pieties and modern dating…. Though Nate has an archetypal quality… Ms. Waldman has skillfully rendered him both fascinating and sympathetic. He is a man of his age, though his strengths and weaknesses are timeless." —The Economist

"Fiendishly readable… Most importantly, Waldman gets the big detail right: When it comes to women, Nate’s "clamorous conscience" comes into conflict with the exercise of his natural advantages as a single, successful, attractive heterosexual man in a sexual economy that, for him, is very much a buyer’s market…. He is misogynistic and ashamed of his misogyny." —Marc Tracy, The New Republic

"While Lena Duham's TV series Girls and Noah Baumbach's film Frances Ha have reaffirmed Brooklyn's status as the capital of hipster cool, Waldman's debut novel offers a more critical look at the district's arty milieu... This is brilliantly observed stuff." -- David Evans, Financial Times (London)

"Every so often... a novel comes along that actually deserves the hype. Adelle Waldman's outstanding debut is one of these.... It fixes for all time on the page a very particular type of man-- the contemporary up-and-coming literary intellectual..... Psychologically astute, subtle, funny and whip-smart, this is a novel that anyone interested in how we live now should read.... With the insinuating sharpness of a stiletto blade, Waldman opens up Nate's interior to show us the mess inside.... The level of insight is bracing... On every page of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P there is something that gives pleasure-- the prose is razor-sharp, the characters in all their pretentions are lovingly skewered. This month's hot novel it may be, but this is a book that will bear repeated readings; funny, angry, subtle and sad, it is the debut of a novelist who's already the real, achieved thing. Highly recommended." -- The Sunday Business Post (London)

"Although the novel is about his love affairs in Brooklyn, this is really a novel that reveals—astutely—how Nate thinks…. The book is an exacting character study and Waldman an excellent and witty prose stylist…. [Nate] is a frog in a wax tray, sliced open and pinned back, his innermost private thoughts on display for inspection by the reader…. One must read the magical ending to understand that although his thoughts on women will leave many outraged, his dissected frog's heart still beats." —Jennifer Gilmore, Los Angeles Times

"… The Brooklyn novel… achieves full maturity with The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman’s enormously enjoyable debut." – Telegraph (UK)

"Like a contemporary Jane Austen, Adelle Waldman unpacks every nuance of modern mating mores in her debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.... Bravo to Adelle Waldman for getting inside the psyche of Homo erectus literaticus, and for not making it as easy as it should be to hate him. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is good, evil fun." —Marion Winik, Newsday

"Waldman has written a book of stately revenge, exposing all that is shallow and oblivious about Nate, and men like him. But it’s also a book of beautifully modulated sympathy—for men as well as women. . . .With her eye for social folly in the streets and restaurants of New York, Waldman resembles Edith Wharton." –Sasha Weiss,

"A funny and surprisingly sympathetic examination of the romantic sociopathy of youthful litterateurs… Waldman captures smart-enough literary party patter so well… that many of her readers may find themselves squirming in hot-faced recognition… Placed throughout the novel, however, are callbacks to the social literature of the nineteenth century—to George Eliot’s work in particular...."—Harper’s Magazine

"So much truth in Nathaniel P. that I just can’t stop reading it. Oh, it’s one hot book…. We read fiction for truth. And it’s there in Nathaniel P…. This is a guy’s book. You might classify it as chick lit. You might think it’s too narrow, about the Brooklyn literary scene. But the personal is universal. And there’s a lot of personal in Nathaniel P. And the only thing that matters is the personal…. Read this book." —Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

"A fabulous book… It’s really great…. This is such a modern portrait. This guy will be so utterly recognizable to all of us and it’s very subtle and I just think a wonderfully written book. I recommend you all get it." —Hanna Rosin, Slate DoubleX Gabfest

"Smart and enthralling… Waldman’s achievement isn’t to glorify so much as to dissect, with an uncommonly sharp eye, a minor romantic failure in all its contemporary complexity and evanescent significance." —San Francisco Chronicle

"[Written] with courage and determination and more than a little bit of moxie." – Baltimore Sun

"[T]hose who pass on "Nathaniel P." will . . . likely be dating themselves, especially if they're still using Nick Hornby or, worse, John Updike as a guide to the modern male psyche. . . ." – The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Early readers of this novel have already started arguing about how unlikable Piven is, but there's no debating Waldman's success in etching such a fine portrait." —Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"We have lately heard ad infinitum the new sensitive literary man’s account of his life and times... what we haven’t yet heard enough of is the smart literary woman’s view of him. With Adelle Waldman’s funny, provocative satire… we have a valuable new anthropology of the type.... [An] excellent funny novel." -- Katie Roiphe, Slate

"[A] provocative debut novel... A discomfitingly thrilling read." -- L. V. Anderson, Slate

"Waldman is a staggeringly talented prose stylist, easy and elegant in every particular, learned, undeceived, and with a dash of sly, quiet humor in nearly every line..." – The Awl

" This is Waldman's debut, but she brings Franzen-level domestic chaos… a magnificent trick of making distant experiences feel like familiar heartaches."-- Grantland

"I basically stayed on the couch for an entire day reading it; I was that riveted by Waldman’s ability to get into the brain of Nate Piven." —Mary Pols, MSN Page-Turner

"[This] lovable antihero quickly becomes irresistible to us. . . The upshot: a thoroughly, hilariously of-the-moment tale that marvelously captures what it’s really like to be young, smart, and looking for love in the big city—from a new writer to watch." – Elle Magazine

"A must-read if you’ve ever dated." —Glamour (Aug 2013)

"Easily summer’s most buzzed-about debut." —Megan O’Grady,

"An honest look inside the head of thirtysomething Nate Piven. It'll have you screaming because you've so dated this guy."—Glamour Magazine, "The 20 Next Big Things"

"Reminiscent of classic realist novels from authors like Graham Greene or Henry James, this delightful debut jumps headfirst into the mind of one man, revealing what he really thinks about women, dating and success." —Megan Fishmann, Bookpage

"Written from a dude’s POV, this big-hearted yet brutally honest novel about finding love in a big city is a major eye-opener." – Cosmopolitan Magazine

"The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. [is] a hilariously astute portrait of a hopelessly self-obsessed Brooklyn writer as a sad young literary man, a Peter Pan for a new, deeply ironic millennium."-- Vogue

"The characters that populate Waldman’s world are artistic, creative, funny and intelligent—except when it comes to matters of the heart." —Kirkus

"An acute study of present-day struggles with intimacy… [Waldman] navigates the male psyche and a highly entertaining hipster mindset, and sneaks in an unexpected, understated ending that brings…a satisfying poignancy." —Publishers Weekly

"[A] sharply written first novel." —Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

"Waldman takes a cliché and turns it on its ear." —Julie Elliott, Library Journal

More About the Author

Adelle Waldman's first novel, "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.", was named one of 2013's best books by The New Yorker, The New Republic, Slate, The Economist, NPR, BookPage, The Guardian, Elle and many others. The novel will soon be translated into Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and other languages. Waldman's writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Slate and many other publications.

Customer Reviews

Very well written.
Paul Marion
Although the book was well written, I just did not like the main character, Nate, at all, and had to force myself to finish this book.
I found this book to be a surprisingly enjoyable read.
Wilhelmina Zeitgeist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By K. Case on July 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Early on in The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., the protagonist makes the following observation: "What he didn't say--why aid the prosecution's case?--was that the kind of writing he preferred seemed inherently masculine. The writers who impressed him most weren't animated by a sense of personal grievance. (They were unlikely to, say, write poems called 'Mommy.')" In many ways, Adelle Waldman's first novel can be read as a response to this (I'm willing to wager) fairly widely-held if rarely spoken literary-male sense of what "women's writing" is; a sense that Waldman, with consummate intelligence and sensitivity, responds to with something much more interesting than mere refutation. She has written the most elegant and fair-minded novel animated by personal grievance imaginable.

This gesture seems to me characteristic of what Waldman does throughout Love Affairs, which, though it risks, in its subtlety, being dismissed as chick lit, or maybe worse, a kind of Brooklyn-hipster-chicklit (see the godawful NPR review for this kind of shameful misreading) has to be read in the tradition in which Waldman is so evidently well-schooled: the 19th-century novel of manners. Like Austen she is nowhere stylistically flashy and everywhere in perfect command of her prose. Perhaps more significantly, though, Waldman is committed to a kind of sympathetic and clear-eyed presentation of Nate. The book is no mere exposé of the familiar irony that the "sensitive guy" is often nevertheless kind of a schmuck.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By John Hearn on August 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
An emerging consensus among researchers suggests that middle class college men and women prefer one or another type of hooking-up to an ongoing, all-in relationship. It seems that young men seek no-strings-attached sex with a variety of women; young women, on the other hand, are focused on an education and future career, which they don't want to jeopardize by getting overly involved in a time-consuming romance, especially given its high probability of failure. But what happens after graduation, when jobs have been secured and life has settled into more of a routine? Do goals change? For both men and women? And have years of casual sex altered the way in which relationships are viewed? The way in which love is perceived and given and experienced?
In The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman offers us an intimate and insightful take on this interesting and profoundly important topic, at least for that demographic of urban, upper-middle class graduates of top-tier colleges.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Waldman's debut novel is poised and sharp and both funny and poignant. It narrates the confusing and never quite satisfying love life of a young writer (his first novel comes out soon and he got a six figure advance for it). It starts with a chance meeting with a former girlfriend: when she got pregnant -a broken condom-- he paid for the abortion, even held her hand while she waited in the clinic, but then speedily drifted away, never to connect with her again. He tries to pass her off with pleasantries but she sees there's no connection. "You're an a**hole," she says, and leaves him.
He really kind of is. But he really kind of isn't, too. He tries to be ethical in his relations with women, just so long as it doesn't entail too much effort. (Involvement = effort for Nate.) The real problem is ambivalence. He starts out hot in a relationship but quickly cools down. He misses his privacy, aloneness, a space where he doesn't have to consider others except as distant objects. He is quick to notice flaws in his significant other of the moment.

The "product of a postfeminist, 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education, he had learned all about male privilege. Moreover he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience." His writing shows that: he is writing an essay on how "we get other people to do things we're too morally thin-skinned to do ourselves. ... Conscience is [our] ultimate luxury."

Elisa, Juliet, Kristen -all his girlfriends to date have been temporary. But now he's met Hannah and, almost against his will, he digs being around her. She's smart. Witty some times. They have views in common but she doesn't mind telling him when she thinks he's wrong.
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