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Crazy Love [Hardcover]

Leslie Morgan Steiner
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 31 2009

At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job at Seventeen magazine, a downtown New York City apartment. Plus a handsome, funny, street-smart boyfriend who adored her. But behind her façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret. She’d made a mistake shared by millions: she fell in love with the wrong person.

At first Leslie and Conor seemed as perfect together as their fairy-tale wedding. Then came the fights she tried to ignore: he pushed her down the stairs of the house they bought together, poured coffee grinds over her hair as she dressed for a critical job interview, choked her during an argument, and threatened her with a gun. Several times, he came close to making good on his threat to kill her. With each attack, Leslie lost another piece of herself.

Gripping and utterly compelling, Crazy Love takes you inside the violent, devastating world of abusive love. Conor said he’d been abused since he was a young boy, and love and rage danced intimately together in his psyche. Why didn’t Leslie leave? She stayed because she loved him. Find out for yourself if she had fallen truly in love – or into a psychological trap. Crazy Love will draw you in -- and never let go.


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Review

“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

About the Author

Leslie Morgan Steiner is the editor of the highly acclaimed anthology Mommy Wars. She writes Two Cents on Working Motherhood for Mommy Track’d: The Working Mother’s Guide to Managed Chaos. She wrote the popular “On Balance” blog for washingtonpost.com from 2006-2008.


Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars learning love April 30 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book took me into a couple of ordinary lives that proved love can be tragic. Inner tragedy is not always born of self and often the self that is constructed of outside forces when formed, cannot be denied. Those brought up by parents who abuse are stamped with that pattern and it is indelible. In this love tale, two people are caught in an eddy of abusive beatings that come close to murder. Here is a wife who loved beyond reason and a husband so marked by his past that he can't stop his karma. To learn that abuse mechanisms never stop, no matter how much love is poured into it, is a horrific fact proved every day and makes this story a dire warning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read March 30 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Women do not always realize their unconscious motives behind their remaining with an abusive male or fail to realize the faulty thinking affecting them. This book reveals Steiner's thought and feeling processes which hopefully will be of value to other women in similar circumstances. Her journey towards recognizing her faulty beliefs will help others who do not understand why women stay so long in abusive relationships.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars nothing new here Aug. 15 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book was nothing that I haven't heard before. I am sure that people would get knowledge from it but you only have to watch Oprah or Dr. Phil or pick up just about any magazine and you will hear everything you need to know about abuse both mental and physical.
A disappointment really....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  88 reviews
63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written April 2 2009
By peggysou - Published on Amazon.com
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.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous--this book will save lives April 20 2009
By Amy Tiemann - Published on Amazon.com
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. Leslie was vulnerable in so many ways and admits how deeply attached she allowed herself to become to Conor, even as he was hurting her. Telling the truth about abuse can be the first step to getting help, and I believe this story will help save lives by allowing other women to examine the truths about abuse, and then take steps to escape the violence.

One irony about this book: in many interviews Leslie Morgan Steiner has said that when we talk about domestic violence, she wishes we focused more on why abusers hurt the people they love. Her own memoir can only be told from her perspective, so it is about how she became pulled in and why she stayed for so long. But I applaud both her writing and her continued speaking out about the problem and cycle of domestic violence, which affects millions of American families every year.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A telling tale with too much telling and not enough depth...wait for the paperback April 19 2009
By alexis ho - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Crazy Love was a very quick read. It was written more like an extended magazine feature than a memoir with multiple layers and true craft. I felt it was an interesting read but ultimately a tale about a young affluent woman who with her Harvard degree, anorexic past, alcoholic pedigree, falls for the wrong man. I was hoping for more insight from the author than what she was willing to give. I wanted to know how she felt about herself and not just the actions she took. All in all I would recommend waiting for the paperback version.
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A key point April 14 2009
By Joe Random - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I heard the author of this book being interviewed on NPR today, and I just had to respond to one thing, because I'm a guy (unfortunately the NPR comments are closed): The moment this abusive guy said [paraphrasing] "If you don't want to be my property, then get out", THAT was the signal to leave. Guys are pretty direct a lot of the time. When he said that, he was telling the literal truth of how it would be. His property or leave. The moment you hear anything like that, grab your stuff, walk out the door, and don't look back. Don't make the mistake of thinking he doesn't mean it. I know men and women have different communication styles, but this is one instance where women need to know how to understand what he's saying. I am not in any way implying that any of this situation was her fault. I'm just pointing out, because I want this to become common knowledge among women, because I have a sister, that a statement like that is a clear danger signal.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read despite major flaws June 16 2010
By MYM Seattle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book recounts the author's first marriage to a messed up, controlling, abusing man. I found it fascinating and read it in one sitting, but at the same time I ended up ultimately feeling dissatisfied. The author actually does not give us a lot of insight into what led her to the decisions that she made, and I get the sense that she still doesn't know. It is more a recounting of events than a memoir with any layers of discovery or self-knowledge.

I admire the author's honestly and willingness to be open about some truly stupid things that she'd done - it takes a lot of courage to put that in print. Like others, I found her constant references to being blond, Harvard-educated, and a WASP to be overkill. We get it, really. It is as if she needs to remind herself of those facts, and that she truly believes that those are the most important things about her, and reasons for the world to envy and admire her.

There were a few cheap shots towards family members, and just enough about her truly messed up adolescence to confuse the story - is there a connection between growing up in an alcoholic family, being an attention-seeking anorexic, and allowing herself to become completely dependent on a man who hurt and scared her? Absolutely, but we don't get any insight into what that connection is. From my own experience, if you grow up around alcohol you get very skilled at pretending things are normal when they are not.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book as a confessional, a train-wreck, and a gripping read, but I ended up not really liking the protagonist very much, and thinking she still has a lot of work to do to really understand her own actions and motivations.
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