Monday, January 08, 2007

Book Review: The History of Love, By Nicole Krauss

It was hard to see the last page through the tears. But isn’t that why I wanted to read this book in the first place?

I loved this story. Here’s what has to say about it:

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

I couldn’t agree more. Not only was this a beautiful story, the writing was phenomenal. At times, I wasn’t sure if I was reading poetry or prose and the swaying back and forth between the two made my head swim in the most delightful way. I loved this paragraph. It captures the power of the emotions, which flow through this story.

One caveat: Krauss uses a few Yiddish terms from time to time. Sometimes she provides the meaning of the word and other times the reader is left to wonder. Most of the terms can be looked up on the Internet with no difficulty. Don’t let this scare you away from this book. It’s a wonderful story!


Alex aka Gypsy Girl said...

Oh! I'm dying to read this one. I will hurry up now! :)

madd said...

Hello my friend...thank you for sending me warm thoughts..and now that I feel better..:)I dropped by to see you and low and behold I find you sharing your feelings about a book that I hadn't heard about yet and now must read it straight away due to your the way how did you know that I am completely in love with books...reading is a true passion of mine as that was how I escaped my world to go and live in wonderful magical places, meet beautiful exciting people and just become whomever I wanted or needed to be at any moment I needed to be. I tend to have reactions to books simular to your so now I am intrigued and must read this Anyway ..just wanted to say thanks..take care my friend..m

Anonymous said...

This songs like a great novel! I'll have to check it out. I also like the words you're watching...especially "loquacious." Maybe because I was told often as a young girl that I talked too much... I noticed, too, that you used the word "verdantly" in one of your posts. I have a "word of the day" on my internet homepage. Maybe I'll try to use them in a poem. Thanks for the inspiration!

Poet with a Day Job said...

Dennis! I am so glad to come here and find someone who has read this book that's been staring at me out of the corner of its eye every time I walk into Pendragon Books! Now I know something about it; and a rave from you too! I'll just have to pick it up (and add it to the double-wide stack of "to be read" books).

Also, the fact that the paragraph you quoted from the book could have been ripped from the pages of my life is also a boon to read the thing.


Novel Nymph said...

The blogosphere is such a small world! Sophie walks around with this book.

I trust both of you...