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Crazy Love Hardcover – March 31, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As a young editor at Seventeen magazine, recovering from a history of alcoholism that permeated her family, Steiner met a man she thought was a knight in shining armor. Handsome and charming, Conor had a more troubled background than her own, raised in poverty in Boston by an abusive mother. Deep in vulnerability and denial, she let down her defenses and justified every time he struck her, even as he got progressively more violent. She gave up her magazine job and moved with Conor to a small town in Vermont and later to Chicago, where they both pursued MBAs. Along the way, she took on financial and emotional debt as Conor became increasingly more demanding and violent. He nearly killed her before she found the strength to admit to herself and others what was going on. Steiner, author of the acclaimed anthology Mommy Wars (2006), offers readers a courageous and revealing look at domestic abuse and one woman’s effort to free herself. --Vanessa Bush


“Compulsively readable.” –People (3 ½ stars)


“[Readers will] cheer as Steiner… slowly regains her sense of self and escapes this crazy love.” –The Washington Post


“In steady, intimate prose punctuated by surprising, refreshing streaks of humor… this courageous, empowering survival story brings the phrase ‘battered woman’ into terrifying focus.” –Kirkus


"A courageous and revealing look at domestic abuse and one woman’s effort to free herself." --Booklist


"Harrowing." --TheDailyBeast.com


“Riveting… An elegant stylist, Morgan eschews the easy pop psychology route in favor of a thought-provoking peek into how violence and abuse curdle into distorted thinking.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“In this gripping, compulsively readable story of romantic love and its dreadful underside, Leslie Morgan Steiner has written a classic. What makes love turn to violence?  How can a woman know she is at risk? These are some of the questions elegantly addressed in Steiner’s important book about how she survived a marriage which almost killed her.  Her painful journey from love to fear to sanity is ultimately heartening and serves a profound lesson.  This book should be required reading for all women." -- Susan Cheever

“Crazy Love reminds us that sometimes a marriage can go from being a mere skirmish in the battle of the sexes to becoming a full-on physical war.  The book stands as a warning to all women to be vigilant when they pick their spouses, to always have an exit strategy in mind, to know where the money in the marriage is, to pick up as much education as possible – all for the possible day when they may find themselves battered, broke, terrified and alone.  It can happen to anyone, and every woman should prepare herself for it.” -- Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life

"A harrowing cautionary tale that should be read by every woman who thinks romantic love can overcome all. I read this book in one terrifying gulp and plan to have my daughter read it. Every mother should do the same." -- Elsa Walsh, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of  Divided Lives

“After a few moments of disbelief—how could a nice girl from  a nice family marry such a cruel and dangerous man?—I found myself cheering for this woman who gets off the floor—literally—and goes on to save her own life.  Crazy Love is a deeply affecting account of cruelty and abuse in a marriage doomed from the start.  It is a reminder that while bad behavior can be explained it can never be excused, and that while placing blame is rarely useful, letting go is.  Leslie Morgan Steiner’s candor is wrenching and ultimately inspiring.” -- Jane Juska, author of Unaccompanied Women and A Round-Heeled Woman

"Leslie Morgan Steiner has written a memoir that is as seductive as a whirlwind romance. This is a book for every woman -- and man -- who has ever felt, as Steiner writes, that ‘leaving was easy. The hard part was figuring out where to go.’" -- Veronica Chambers, author, Mama's Girl

“Bright, beautiful and battered.  Leslie Morgan Steiner didn’t think of herself as a victim until it was almost too late. Hers is a success story that shows how excruciating a declaration of independence can be and how much happiness can come from it.  Read it and cheer.” -- George Lardner, author of The Stalking of Kristin and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his Washington Post series investigating his daughter’s murder by her ex-boyfriend 

"Most love is crazy -- at first, it's that can't eat, can't sleep feeling. Then it moves into a comfortable, warm, hopefully, still sexy state. Leslie Morgan Steiner shows us with wrenching clarity when crazy is good and when crazy is something you need to leave. A must read for anyone in a consuming relationship." -- Iris Krasnow, author of New York Times bestseller, Surrendering to Marriage

“If you've ever read your daughter the story of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, you should make sure she knows the story Leslie Morgan Steiner tells in Crazy Love, too. This book is for every woman who's ever thought, "I can change him. He'll change for me"—and who hasn't thought that? Steiner's tale unfolds with all the harrowing inevitability of a horror movie, the kind where you watch the heroine start down the dark staircase to the basement with your heart pounding as you whisper, ‘No! Don't do it! Don't!’

That such a smart, kind, funny, vital woman could let herself be victimized this way seems almost unimaginable—and yet Steiner makes you understand how it came to pass, and even appreciate, with a sort of disgusted awe, how expertly her husband manipulates her aching insecurities and longing for that great big happily-ever-after love we learn about in fairy tales. That she comes out the other side is miraculous. That she's brave enough to tell this frank and brutal story is, too.” -- Sandy Hingston, “Loco Parentis” columnist for Philadelphia Magazine and author of The Affair

“A vivid and compelling story that goes a long way to dispelling the myth that women who are abused by men are in some way at fault.  This book will be cherished by any woman who has ever been in the grip of an abusive relationship.” -- Jane Bernstein, author of Bereft:A Sister’s Story and Rachel in the World

“Steiner's brave, insightful memoir reveals how independent and capable women can find themselves trapped in violent relationships.  More important, she shows that women can find their way out of abusive relationships.  Her absorbing story will inspire every reader.  To a reader with an abusive partner, it may well save her life. -- Elisabeth Joy LaMotte, psychotherapist and author of Overcoming Your Parents' Divorce

“Leslie Morgan Steiner pulls no punches in this brutally honest memoir of a brave, smart, fresh-faced young woman’s descent into domestic hell.  Domestic violence isn’t picky and it doesn’t only happen to “other people.” All of us are vulnerable.  Her story is proof that love can come on so strong it can kill you.  Steiner’s good news? Sometimes the end of the world is actually the very beginning.” -- Monica Holloway, author of Driving With Dead People and Cowboy and Wills

“Leslie Morgan Steiner is the bravest woman I know. Not only did she save her own life, but now she has --opened her heart to save countless others. As one who has hidden to avoid the humiliation of a fat lip, I know how hard that can be.  Crazy Love recounts the sad, sentimental journey that destroys the myth of physical abuse - that it doesn’t happen to nice girls, or smart girls, or anyone you know.  Steiner’s vivid prose paints a clear picture of how it started, why she let it continue, and how she escaped to tell the tale.  Crazy Love sets the record straight: love can be a four letter word.” --Leslie Lehr, author of Wife Goes On

"I read this book in one night. Crazy Love is a gripping, beautifully crafted and above all a painfully honest account of a woman (who by all accounts doesn't look the type) grappling with an abusive relationship. If you've ever been there or heard about a woman dealing with this situation and wondered, "why'd she stay?" read Leslie's unselfconscious account. Now I understand. Read Crazy Love and you will too." --Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay

"Leslie Morgan Steiner has written a deeply compelling, brutally honest and important book about her relationship with a man who abused her, emotionally and physically.  I couldn't put it down.   It's a must-read for anyone who has been there or knows someone who has -- or just wonders how it happens.  Most importantly, Leslie's own life offers living, breathing proof that women can not only break these destructive bonds, but move on to build successful marriages, families and careers." --Dee Dee Myers, author of Why Women Should Rule the World


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312377452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312377458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Crazy Love is an apt title for a memoir about an abusive relationship. It is crazy to anyone on the outside looking in. It is crazy for the woman to stay in the relationship. It is crazy to take one minute of abuse and stay for more. It is crazy to think an abusive man will change.
I read this well written book in one sitting. Did I feel sorry for poor Conor? For his miserable childhood, yes. For his inability to handle his rage as an adult, no. I wanted him punished. I want him exposed now and publicly ridiculed.
For those of you who think there are always two sides of a story, you are wrong. Men who do this should be put on a public offender list, and be branded as abusers for the rest of their lives.
When she was nearly choked to death by Conor before they were married, I thought she was crazy to stay. When she went to counseling with him after their separation, I was stunned. How crazy could she be?
A funny reaction from someone like me. I went through the same thing 40 years ago. What this books points out, so well, is that there is no logical explanation as to why a woman would remain in such a relationship. You do enter a surreal world of denial and shame. How do you admit that the person you love most in the world, and who professes to love you as much, is beating the stuffing out of you? How do you leave when you have no money, no home to go to? How do you face the humiliation? Trust me when I say that the humiliation is nearly unbearable. Do you know many people will wonder what you did to make your husband beat you? Do you know that many people, even your family, will think you are probably exaggerating?
Nothing in this book is exaggerated. It is a true and heartbreaking story of how easy it is to find yourself in a crazy world, and the struggle to wake up from the nightmare and regain your sanity.
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Format: Hardcover
I am pretty puzzled by the negative reviews here. "Crazy Love" is a courageous, unflinching look inside an abusive relationship. It is a difficult but well-written, powerful story.

Leslie Morgan Steiner does us all a service by illustrating the pattern she experienced in her abusive relationship, especially the small steps her partner took to draw her in--his charm and his neediness, their deep connection, and then the boundary testing and slow escalation of violence. When she did not call his early possessiveness and jealousy into question, he increased his control over her, through isolation by moving to Vermont, financial dependence when Leslie left her New York job, alienation of her family, and then increasing violence. He was a Wall Street financier, she was a Harvard grad and Seventeen Magazine editor. On the outside they looked like they had everything going for them. Behind closed doors, Conor punched Leslie, belittled her, and threatened her, daring her to leave at vulnerable times when she had nowhere else to go.

The author admits her blind spot: she deeply loved him and wanted to rescue him from his own violent past as an abused child. It took the realization that he truly could kill her to cut through her denial, call the police, and get help and get away from her abuser forever.

Leslie Morgan Steiner paints a full picture in her narrative: her own family had serious dysfunctions. She herself was a recovering addict, just out of her teen years and inexperienced in healthy relationships, who had only recently graduated from college when she met Conor. Her parents had their own divorce drama playing out while this was all going on.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me state upfront that I am one of those people who always wonder why women stay in a domestic abusive relationship, and when I looked at this book, when the author says in the foreword why she is writing this book "Maybe the next time you come across a woman in an abusive relationship, instead of asking why anyone stays with a man who beats her, you'd have the empathy and courage to help her on her way", I just knew I had to read this book.

In "Crazy Love: A Memoir" (328 pages), author Leslie Morgan Steiner brings the chilling retelling how she, an accomplished woman on many levels (Harvard grad, Chicago MBA) fell in love in her mid-20s with a man who then started to hit her and abuse her, after she had make the emotional commitment to that man. The first half of the book brings the happy times, how they met, fell in love and they seemed like the perfect couple.The the warning signs start cropping up, and before she knows it, she is living a terror. "I saw the pink blur of his hand as he slapped me hard across my face. My skin stung as my teeth cut through the soft, wet flesh of my mouth." The author details how her man, Conor, was abused and beaten as a child himself, and she makes it her mission to 'save' him because she loves him so. Of course there is no saving to be done. She gives him an ultimatum: one more time and I'm out of here, and yet he does it again. "I would have never given up. Conor gave up. He knew that beating me that night guaranteed I would leave him for good."

This is a devastating book on many levels. I can only commend the author for writing this book, after all these years (in the Epilogue, she tells us that she's now happily married with 3 young kids). Shame on all the men abusing their women, really. It makes me revolt. But it happens, and my heart goes out to all the women that are going through it. This book made me better understand how difficult it is for them to actually escape from such terrible situations.
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