This delightful and excellently written book, to paraphrase a NYT book review, is mesmerizingly intricate and complex. Having recently prepared for a book club discussion, I am sharing some of that information in the hopes a wider audience may enjoy a fuller understanding of the plot of this book.
Quotes and citations are from the first edition of the paperback and hard back - identical page citations in each. Questions are presented in this segment and will be followed by repeating the questions along with citations, quotes and sometimes with my conclusions and observations in subsequent parts on this discussion forum.
Thanks to some discoveries courtesy of this discussion forum and a big THANK YOU to Nicole Krauss for for an incredible book full of mystery, life, and beautiful prose.
Please call attention to any errors and provide answers to questions unanswered.
Somewhat like the satisfaction and pleasure of solving a crossword, soduku, puzzle, or mystery novel. But, Krauss does not clearly disclose-which challenge makes it all the more fun. I find the delight of finding and being shown equally pleasurable.
1. Who was the girl who opened the door at the art school where Leo posed (p15)? Answers to all below.
2. Was Bruno imaginary? When did the real-life Bruno die? When did Leo say his Bruno died?
3. Who was Jacob Marcus? Why was this name used, where did it come from? How did Alma S learn Jacob Marcus' true name? How did Jacob Marcus discover the History of Love and why did he ask Charlotte Singer to translate it?
4. How does Alma M track down the true identity of Jacob Marcus and find Leo?
5. How did Isaac come to know The History of Love and that the author of THOL was his father?
6. How did David Singer come to know The History of Love?
7. Did Isaac know who his father was and if he was alive, and that he wrote The History of Love? By whom, and why, were The History of Love English manuscript put under Leo's pillow and the notes sent to Leo and to Alma S to meet at the zoo?
8. What did Leo do to reach out to Isaac? To Alma M?
9. How did the manuscript of The History of Love come into Zvi's possession?
10. Why did Zvi publish The History of Love? Why in his name? What did this do to Zvi? What did Rosa do when she discovered who had written The History of Love? Did Zvi once have a romantic relationship with Alma M?
11. What concessions to his conscience did Zvi make for his plagiarism?
12. How did the manuscript of Words for Everything get into Isaac's home?
How did Words for Everything get into a publication cycle and pre-publication magazine article under Isaac's name as author? Did Isaac plagiarize it? Did Isaac know who his father was? Did Isaac read Words for Everything and know who wrote it? What is the origin of the title of this book?
13. What is the significance of the segment describing Leo's picking the lock for the apartment owner?
14. How did Alma Singer come to be named Alma?
15. What was Charlotte's reaction to David's death?
16. What was Alma Singer's quest? What was she looking for, what drove her?
17. What are the chapter/segment titles of The History of Love by Leo included in THOL?
18. What is the significance of the icons at the beginning of each chapter? What is the association?
19. What did you think of the many obituaries in THOL?
20. What did you think of the ending? What did you think of the book's title? What Alternate name might have been given THOL?