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The History of Love Paperback – May 17, 2006
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The History of Love spans of period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character's psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love. Leo Gursky is a retired locksmith who immigrates to New York after escaping SS officers in his native Poland, only to spend the last stage of his life terrified that no one will notice when he dies. ("I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I'm out, I'll buy a juice even though I'm not thirsty.") Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer vacillates between wanting to memorialize her dead father and finding a way to lift her mother's veil of depression. At the same time, she's trying to save her brother Bird, who is convinced he may be the Messiah, from becoming a 10-year-old social pariah. As the connection between Leo and Alma is slowly unmasked, the desperation, along with the potential for salvation, of this unique pair is also revealed.
The poetry of her prose, along with an uncanny ability to embody two completely original characters, is what makes Krauss an expert at her craft. But in the end, it's the absolute belief in the uninteruption of love that makes this novel a pleasure, and a wonder to behold. --Gisele Toueg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Krauss has complete command of a story that could get away from a lesser novelist.Read more ›
Summary, no spoilers:
This novel is told from the point of view of several narrators.
The first, and best narrator, (the parts that feature him are brilliant), is Leo Gursky. Leo lives by himself in New York. He was born in Poland, and fell in love with a girl named Alma. They vowed to spend their lives together.
Due to the war, Leo and Alma were separated, and Leo has spent his life alone, pining for Alma.
The other main narrator is a young girl also named Alma, who has lost her father to pancreatic cancer and lives with her young brother and mother. All have been terribly damaged by his death.
Although we occasionally get other narrators, the story is essentially told by these two wounded individuals. Alma tries to find the woman for whom she was named, and Leo tries to become a part of the living world, and become a part of his son Isaac's life. And all of this centers around a mysterious book entitled The History of Love.
This is a gorgeous book. Like Foer's novel, this book is funny, sad, and quirky. At times a bit too quirky.
I thought the chapters involving Leo were terrific. The book starts out with Leo's narration, and hence the book starts out on a powerful note.
Although I enjoyed the character of young Alma, the chapters involving her were often odd, and sometimes slowed the pace of the story.
Still, this book is worthy of 5 stars, and it would make a wonderful book club choice...there is a lot to discuss.
So who has the better book, Foer or Krauss? My vote goes to Krauss, who wrote a page turner that has a better flow, and is more accessible than the Foer's work.
Nicole Krauss understands books to be what no other medium is: self-contained, tough, mobile over continents and generations and languages, full of the future as inscribed by a piece of someone's soul. The History of Love (the novel within the novel) has a provenance that would make a Rembrandt painting blush: written in Poland, manuscript given away then stolen, conceived in Yiddish, translated to Spanish, published in Argentina, found by a Jewish traveler, given to his wife, secretly translated into English, discovered by a 15 year old girl in New York, AND MORE. In Krauss's telling, none of this is random, and even though characters act unaware of each other, the larger plan somehow manifests G*d in the lives of the Living. Why don't I just write it: according to Krauss, when the soul of the writer is pure, a book becomes an immanent sacred object. And in that way, books are a lot like love, only rectangular and full of numbered pages.
If we esteemed writers by what their novels hold faith with, Nicole Krauss would sweep this year's fiction awards.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At some point I admitted to myself that I had no idea what was going on in this book and that apparently I lost the story; I felt bewildered. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Patricia Gallant
I couldn't put it down and need to go back and re-read certain parts.Published 7 days ago by Margaret
This is a beautifully written book. And yet. Some of it's too stylistic for my taste. It's interesting. But. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Melinda
I love this book! I am going to have to read it again I think , to completely understand it.Published 23 days ago by bjthoms
This work is breathtaking. It reads like poetry and broke my heart in the first chapter. I will forever be impacted by this book.Published 27 days ago by Kim Jones
Great story , takes the imagination to interesting places .
A bit difficult to follow sometimes , very well written , with superior expression ,