The History of Love

The History of LoveShortlisted For The Orange Prize For Fiction 2006 And Winner Of The 2006 Prix Du Meilleur Livre Etranger, The History Of Love Explores The Lasting Power Of The Written Word And The Lasting Power Of Love Published As A Penguin Essential For The First Time When I Was Born My Mother Named Me After Every Girl In A Book My Father Gave Her Called The History Of Love Fourteen Year Old Alma Singer Is Trying To Find A Cure For Her Mother S Loneliness Believing She Might Discover It In An Old Book Her Mother Is Lovingly Translating, She Sets Out In Search Of Its Author Across New York An Old Man Called Leo Gursky Is Trying To Survive A Little Bit Longer He Spends His Days Dreaming Of The Love Lost That Sixty Years Ago In Poland Inspired Him To Write A Book And Although He Doesn T Know It Yet, That Book Also Survived Crossing Oceans And Generations, And Changing Lives He was a great writer He fell in love It was his life. The Simplest Questions Are the Hardest to Answer1 What is love 2 Who am I 3 Is there a word for everything 4 What sort of book is this 5 What is a palaeontologist 5 What is a Palaeontologist If he took a complete, illustrated guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shred it into a hundred pieces, cast them into the wind from the museum s steps, let a few weeks pass, went back and scoured Fifth Avenue and Central Park for as many surviving scraps as he could find, then tried to reconstruct the history of painting, including schools, styles, genres, and names of painters from his scraps, that would be like being a palaeontologist. This beautiful book is a similar cornucopia of fragments The narratives have different textures, colours, size, shape, weight, mood, and style They connect in often unexpected ways pieces may split, run parallel, then diverge, or be reunited And yet The result is wondrous, strange, and deceptively simple.4 What Sort of Book is This A kind of half light in which the reader can project his or her own imagination It is ostensibly about love, but is at least as much about surviving loss and postponing death It s also about identity And yet The book itself ha
I need to cut the crap with my preconceptions Although I almost unfailingly launch into a new novel with great enthusiasm like a kid on Christmas morning, anxious to discover what hidden treasure awaits, for some reason I held out little hope for Mrs Foer s book about a book about love Maybe it s because books about books about love aren t usually my thing Maybe it s because I read her husband s bestseller last year and was less than impressed Maybe it s because I had heard somewhere that they wrote their books together oh, how a dorable , bouncing ideas off one another and giving each other high fives, so naturally I assumed that if Mr Foer s book was gimmicky which it is , then The History of Love would surely be a major eye roller as well, right Wrong.Whatever the reason, I was clearly out of line, and for that I owe Nicole a huge apology In this book she weaves three intersecting storylines all under a cloud of intriguing ambiguity, so even though it is understood that the stories are related, it isn t exactly clear how until about two thirds of the way through And as the stories of Leopold Gursky, Alma Singer, and Zvi Litvinoff are told to us, they leave an imprint on us even before we learn for sure who they are The History of Love is a gorgeous novel with gorgeous characters who do what characters do best they love and they lose, they struggl
The great tragedy of life is this then, our friends are not allowed to finish their stories My second reading of this book bore out my feeling the first time I read it The first two hundred pages are a stunningly beautiful and moving account of love and loss and the stories hidden within stories and then, of a sudden, it s as if Krauss handed the novel over to her distinctly less talented husband to finish off the book She ruins it with the fourth of her narrators, the entirely preposterous whimsy of Bird who is a kind of identikit of Foer s equally irritating cutesy cutesy little boy narrator in Extremely Loud Bird is a mistake and the attempt to add still madcap tomfoolery and another search for a missing person, a person who doesn t exist, is just daft Bird as a character is a joke that simply isn t funny And to make another mystery of a mystery, to create another story with the honeycomb of stories, backfires horribly so late in the novel I don t think I ve ever read a novel that punctures so catastrophically towards the end and has left me feeling so angry and cheated I d forgotten how beautiful most of this novel is How poignantly and succinctly Krauss conveys the childhood love of two Jewish children before the Nazis arrive How magically she re
Original Comments Pre Review I would like to review this novel formally in the near future, but to do so I ll have to flick through it and refresh my memory.My reaction at the time was that it was one of the best novels I had ever read.Nicole Krauss understands people and love and feelings and she writes about them in a word perfect way.As a reader, I am prepared to go wherever she wants to take me I will trust her judgement.I have recently watched a few of her videos and interviews on Youtube and she s also someone who I enjoy listening to when she speaks about her craft and her choice of subject matter.This probably sounds very gushy and naive, but I promise to write something considered.Review September 26, 2011 Warning about SpoilersI have tried to minimise and identify plot spoilers.However, this is an emotional response to the novel, and might reveal significance that you might want to enjoy by way of your own detection.I hope that my review doesn t spoil anything for you, or if it does, that you quickly forget it.Lives Lived and Measured by the Deli CounterNicole Krauss The History of Love is one of my favourite novels of all time.I read it once pre Good Reads, and have just re read it, so that I could review it And I will read it again Often.That doesn t count the numerous times I have fingered through the book seeking out passages and expressions and meanings and significances th
Nicole Krauss is married to Jonathan Safran Foer They both live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and they both write clever, critically acclaimed novels featuring preciously innocent narrators, magical realism, and some safe postmodern experiments blank pages, pictures, excessive repetition, etc that you d notice just by flipping through I loved Foer s Everything is Illuminated, liked his Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close okay, and liked Krauss s History of Love a little less I m wondering now if my appreciation for Everything is Illuminated and my waning appreciation for the other two books is due to the fact that I read it first I hope not.Here there are three narrators Leo Gursky, a Holocaust survivor and sometimes writer, living alone in New York, waiting to die 14 year old Alma Singer, a precocious girl who has to deal not only with her father s death but with her mother s subsequent depression as well and a third person omniscent narrator who relates the story of a little known book called wait for it The History of Love It goes without saying that these characters are connected in ways they don t understand hint by the mysterious book and that somehow this connection, once made, will help everyone involved That s all fine Things, however, don
One of the last books I read in 2017 was Virginia Woolf s A Room of One Own In this series of essays, Woolf maintains that if a woman has a room of her own in which to write, then she is than capable of producing the same if not greater works than men While pondering my 2018 classics bingo and what book to use as a free square, my thoughts turned to Nicole Krauss I finally discovered Krauss last year, having read both Great House and Forest Dark The prose in both novels was superb, leading literary critics to dub Krauss as one of the greatest Jewish writers since Kafka Krauss has a desk of her own in which to write, discussing it at length in Great House I decided it would be appropriate to use my bingo free square for her History of Love, another of her novels that weaves together multiple plot lines in Kafka like fashion Leopold Gursky is approaching the age of his death As he nears his final hour, he can not help but reminisce about his childhood home in Slonim near Minsk and his boyhood friends Bruno Schulz real life author of Streets of Crocodiles and Zvi Litvinoff All three men decided upon careers in writing in their youth before the Nazis invaded Poland and shattered their dreams Before Jewish life in Slonim ended, young Leopold Gursky fell in love with Alma Mereminski With a name meaning soul and a
I tend to be an emotional reader and my ratings reflect that I finish books filled with excitement or sadness or intense dislike and write equally passionate reviews rants, often including snazzy gifs to make my point This is why some classics get 1 star and J.K Rowling gets 5 stars and even Twilight gets 2 stars I feel it s almost impossible to objectively judge quality of writing and literary value, so I usually rate based on the emotional effect the book had on me That being said, I occasionally think there are some books that are just built on a clever concept and become better the you sit and think about what you ve just read.In my opinion, The History of Love is one of those books.For one thing, this novel is something of a work of art The graphic design even of the dedications page feels important to the novel without seeming overly gimmicky I ve actually always loved the concept of a book within a book when a book, which forms part of the plot, also ties in with the physical book in your hands or ebook, perhaps In this case, the story features a book entitled you guessed it The History of Love, which carries an obituary at the end identical to the one at the end of this book The real mes
All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen Leopold Gursky, Holocaust survivor, is a lonely old man who dreams of his long lost love Alma Mereminski and survives each day with the desire to just be noticed by someone He has one single soul he can call a friend in this world, Bruno, his old faithful Alma Singer is a fourteen year old girl who lost her father and whose heart aches for the mother that can barely get out of bed and make it to the next day My mother is lonely even when we re around her Alma and her brother, Bird, have each other, but Alma needs her mother to be happy and live in this world once again, not simply by getting by with just her memories Then comes the day when Alma s mother is asked to translate a book called The History of Love the very same book that Alma s father gave to her mother all those years ago and the one that provided the inspiration behind Alma s own name Alma begins a quest to find a partner for her mother and becomes involved in researching the background of this book We also meet Zvi Litvinoff, a Polish refugee living in South America Litvinoff, too, suffers from his own private sorrow and grief, but is the fortunate recipient of loyalty and love from a woman named Rosa Litvinoff has achieved some fame in his life with the pub
Leo is the obvious charmer of this novel, an elderly man who escapes the Nazis as a boy and eventually follows the love of his life to America where he discovers she has married someone else Leo holds the torch for Alma throughout his long life He has also written a novel, The History of Love, the manuscript of which he entrusted to a friend and believes forever lost His novel is the holy spirit of this novel Every character is profoundly affected by it Leo didn t quite charm me as much as Krauss wanted I found some of the humour too slapstick It was Alma who won me over Alma is the second narrator She is named after the heroine of Leo s book which her father loved Except the book isn t credited as being authored by Leo and it was published in Chile in Spanish The first mystery in a succession surrounding this book Her father is dead when the narrative begins Alma is a brilliant humorous portrait of an adolescent girl who has lost her father and is dealing with a grief stricken mother and a traumatised younger brother Her mother is a translator and is excited when she is commissioned to translate The History of Love into English All the characters live obsessively in the past It s a novel about lost edens, about coming to terms with the present
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering I found this quote from a listicle please don t judge me of 50 of the most beautiful sentences in literature This one particular sentence left me with a heaping serving of the feels and so without a second thought, I chucked the book I was reading at that time and started reading The History of Love A few chapters later, I realized that this was not the sappy romantic book I was hoping for The story is heart breaking, in a way I m quite happy to be proven wrong, though Sad as it may be, the prose could take your breath away I discovered another work of art, beautiful than that one sentence that lead me to it The History of Love is not really much of a history at all It s like a meditation on love, or an exploration of love It s the story of a bunch of people who are not only searching for love, but also searching for themselves, and trying to find their places in the world Once the characters lives intertwine, the ending introduces questions of fate, destiny, and the things that connect us to each other and to the universe More than that, though, the ending reaffirms the power of love no, not the sappy 80 s song It sustains through the years and unites people across decades, miles, and circumstances In the end, even though it isn t the romance I was hoping to read, I still came away feeling pretty darn good ab