Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The History of Love: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2005
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Nicole Krauss's The History of Love is a hauntingly beautiful novel about two characters whose lives are woven together in such complex ways that even after the last page is turned, the reader is left to wonder what really happened. In the hands of a less gifted writer, unraveling this tangled web could easily give way to complete chaos. However, under Krauss's watchful eye, these twists and turns only strengthen the impact of this enchanting book.
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
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The last words of this haunting novel resonate like a pealing bell. "He fell in love. It was his life." This is the unofficial obituary of octogenarian Leo Gursky, a character whose mordant wit, gallows humor and searching heart create an unforgettable portrait. Born in Poland and a WWII refugee in New York, Leo has become invisible to the world. When he leaves his tiny apartment, he deliberately draws attention to himself to be sure he exists. What's really missing in his life is the woman he has always loved, the son who doesn't know that Leo is his father, and his lost novel, called The History of Love, which, unbeknownst to Leo, was published years ago in Chile under a different man's name. Another family in New York has also been truncated by loss. Teenager Alma Singer, who was named after the heroine of The History of Love, is trying to ease the loneliness of her widowed mother, Charlotte. When a stranger asks Charlotte to translate The History of Love from Spanish for an exorbitant sum, the mysteries deepen. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room) ties these and other plot strands together with surprising twists and turns, chronicling the survival of the human spirit against all odds. Writing with tenderness about eccentric characters, she uses earthy humor to mask pain and to question the universe. Her distinctive voice is both plangent and wry, and her imagination encompasses many worlds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
"The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma." So wrote young, aspiring author Leopold Gursky. He actually wrote three books before he was twenty-one, before WWII invaded his hometown of Slonim, which was located "sometimes in Poland, and others in Russia." Now, years later in Brooklyn, NY, Leo has no idea what happened to his manuscript, "The History Of Love," his most important work. He wrote the novel about the only thing he knew, his love for Alma. "Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." He continued to write their story long after Alma's father sent her to America, where she would be safe from the Nazis. He even wrote after the Germans pushed East, toward his home.
At age eighty, Leo feels compelled to make himself seen at least once a day. He fears dying alone in his apartment, on a day when no one sees him at all. And he is capable of doing some pretty outrageous things to garner attention, including posing in the nude for a life drawing class. Ever since the war he has felt invisible. He survived by becoming invisible. And now, he needs to be sure he exists. When he came to America, his cousin, a locksmith took him in and taught him the trade. He did so because he knew Leo could not remain invisible forever. "Show me a Jew that survives and I'll show you a magician," he used to say. Leo finds some solace in his work. "In my loneliness it comforts me to think that the world's doors, however closed, are never truly locked to me." Unbeknownst, to Leopold Gursky, his book has survived also, and has inspired others in many ways, especially to love.
Alma Singer is a precocious teenager who lives in New York City. She is named for all the female characters in her father's favorite book, "A History of Love." Singer, an Israeli, bought the only copy in a store in Buenos Aires, while traveling in South America. Alma's mother, Charlotte, is an Englishwoman who met her husband while working on a kibbutz in Israel. He gave her the book, a gift, when he realized how much he cared for her. He died of pancreatic cancer when Alma was seven. Seven years later, his family is still adjusting to their loss. The sensitive girl desperately wants to ease her mother's loneliness. She also wants to learn how to survive in the wilderness, and help her brother, Bird, be a normal boy. Bird believes he may be the Messiah. Charlotte, a translator, receives a request from an anonymous stranger to translate an obscure book by a Polish exile, Zvi Litvinoff, who immigrated to Chile. She accepts the commission. The book, written in Spanish, is titled "The History of Love." Alma reads her mom's English translation and sets out to find her namesake. Her literary detective work is hilarious and her tenacity is admirable.
Ms. Krauss is a master at linking her various storylines seamlessly. Her characters are a delight - all vivid and memorable for their humanity, their eccentricity, and their inner strength. The author brings them to life on the page. They have all experienced sorrow and loss, yet there is not a self-pitying voice among them. And it is impossible not to love Leo Gursky. I hear my grandmother's voice, at times, when he speaks. She died years ago, and was probably a generation older than the author's grandparents, to whom the novel is dedicated.
I plan to reread "The History of Love" in a few weeks, over a weekend when I won't be disturbed. I made the mistake of taking the book with me to work, and between the train and the office, I felt the numerous interruptions seriously detracted from the glorious flow of the language. This is a novel which is meant to be read more than once, anyway. ENJOY!