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The Literary Equivalent of "Leaving It All on the Field." Remarkable.

  • Dec 31, 2010
  • by
Why oh why did I buy this book and then leave it languishing on the pile for THREE EFFING YEARS? Why?

And why didn't any of you shame me for doing so?

The History of Love is, like another of my perennial favorites The Shadow of the Wind, a book about a book. Krauss deftly weaves multiple narrative lines into a story about an old man, a young girl, and the book that has shaped their lives in ways they are neither fully aware of nor capable of understanding. She explores history and the Holocaust without being completely depressing (no easy feat!), and her writing is just so lush. So gorgeous. So "yes, I'm going to read this aloud to you whether you like or not" inducing. (Just ask my poor, patient husband.)

In Leo Gursky, an elderly Jewish man who knocks over drugstore displays just so he can know he is not invisible ("All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen"), Krauss has created an unforgettable character to star in a work of literature that elevates the love story to new heights. You need proof?

Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

How's that? Without question, this is one of the best books I read this year (and, really, in the last decade), and I only wish I'd discovered it sooner. To borrow an analogy from the sports world, Krauss "leaves everything on the field," filling this book with emotion, beauty, and heartbreakingly perfect sentences. She has found her way onto my list of favorite authors, and I just *know* that The History of Love will only get better with time and re-readings.

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January 03, 2011
great review! I somehow struggled through this one, the cadence or flow of how the stories were interwoven just never quite pulled me along. there was some incredible character development and language though, I do agree. your review makes me want to revisit it, actually!
More The History of Love: A Novel reviews
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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Rebecca Joines Schinsky ()
Ranked #230
Panty-throwing, book-loving wild woman behind The Book Lady's Blog. Reader, critic, lover of indie bookstores, National Book Critics Circle member.
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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 ...

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ISBN-10: 141934224X
ISBN-13: 978-1419342240
Author: Nicole Krauss
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

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