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Great House: A Novel Hardcover – October 5, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
"Bend a people around the shape of what they lost, and let everything mirror its absent form."
This elegiac story opens with Nadia, a now divorced and successful writer, who received the desk in 1972 from a Chilean poet, Daniel Varsky. Daniel needed a place to store furniture, and Nadia had an empty house. After a long night that resulted only in a brief kiss, he leaves her his desk, as well as other pieces of furniture, and returns to Chile and the tragic conditions of Pinochet's Junta regime. He never returns. Years later, during a particularly low period of her life, she receives a call from a woman, Leah Weisz, who alleges to be Varsky's daughter, and who has called to claim the desk. In the midst of this narrative, we occasionally break to Nadia confessing to an unknown "Your Honor." Nadia's attachment to the desk is profound and the loss of it signals keen despair.
Leah and her brother have lived a nomadic (yet insular) privileged life with their father, George, a mordant, esteemed antiques dealer who is legendary for his prowess in recovering any loss object. He is obsessed with scrupulously reconstructing his father's study, to make it the way it was before the Gestapo pillaged it during World War II.Read more ›
I do not mean that Krauss made a wrong choice in this case, necessarily; her stories of failed communication, concealment and secrecy, conflicting memories, misinterpretations and confusions, are probably best told in this kind of recursive structure, making the novel something of a puzzle for the reader, who must approach the work as an alert and participatory rather than passive observer. The tricksy structure also may serve to conceal or at least distract from some considerable weaknesses in the novel, including the excessive symbolic weight placed on the central "object"--the mysterious desk--which serves as the red violin or the white whale of the plot. For me, at least, it never succeeds in coalescing the several tales--especially those of the failures of love, the most important in the novel.
My most serious complaint, however, is with Krauss's prose style. She writes poetically and many passages are truly rich in both imagery and emotional power--especially when her characters suffer the revelatory experiences that force them to self-recognition.Read more ›
With GREAT HOUSE, Krauss leaves behind the almost childlike quality of her previous novel and takes possession of her maturity like a mansion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thought provoking, well written, definitely needs another read and discussions!Published 7 months ago by susan schierts
Sometimes you read a book you want to live in. Great House is such a book for me. You want to see and describe the world as the writer does. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Miriam
this is a beautifully written book. the words are gorgeous.Published 11 months ago by barbara steiner
Mediocre drivel. The History of Love was fantastic, but this is crap. This novel is glaringly contemporary, and not in a good way. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Julian Sojo
I really loved the author's book The History of Love, so I was really looking forward to this one. It has some good parts, but it also has some very boring parts. Read morePublished 14 months ago by abc
Excellent novel! Though it took me some time to unravel all the interconnected story lines, it was very satisfying and intelligent read -graceful, thoughtful and profoundly... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Reader from Texas