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Nicole Krauss'sThe History of Loveis 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

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ISBN-10:  141934224X
ISBN-13:  978-1419342240
Author:  Nicole Krauss
Publisher:  W. W. Norton & Company
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review by . April 20, 2005
This remarkable novel is a paean to the strength of the human spirit, the nature of language and the yearning for connection. Leo Gursky has lived in stunning loneliness for most of his life. He has loved but one woman devotedly, a girl he grew up with in the old country. When she leaves for America, he stays behind to see his entire family annihilated by the Nazi's. Years later, after living as a refugee, he too comes to America, only to discover she has married, believing him dead in the pogroms.    …
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