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Elderly Leo Gursky lost his great love when he was young and he has spent the rest of his life living with what-might-have-beens and watching her and her family from afar. Not in any kind of icky way but in a caring way. Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is named after all the women in a book entitled The History of Love. The book leads her on a quest that takes on more and more layers, as she first searches for happiness for her widowed mother and then she gets more curious about the people she finds.
I missed something here. I know so many people love this book, and I kept waiting to love it too, and then I got to the end. And now I’m sitting here watching my cursor blink back at me and I really don’t even know what to say.
I do have to say that I admire the narrators’ voices. They were all very distinct, from the twelve-year-old Jewish boy to his fourteen-year-old sister, to old Leo to the disembodied narrator, I knew who was telling each section with no problem. I have to admire the author’s artistry in pulling that off.
But everyone was just so sad and so alone. It got a little depressing. Even the twelve-year-old felt sad and alienated. He was faced with the choice of being true to his own nature and alone or burying a part of himself and fitting in and having friends.
I guess my problem might be that I tend to like my stories to be a little more linear. I can take some detours as long as I get to see how they’re going to tie in pretty quickly. But when there are several distinct plots roaming around a book and I don’t understand how they fit together until right at the end, I’ve pretty much given up and don’t care anymore. And I think that’s what happened to me here.
The book is beautifully written, so if that is a bigger draw for you than that linear plot I was talking about, I think you will like, or even love, this one.
Read an excerpt.
Find author Nicole Krauss on her website.
I read this for Bookish Ardor’s Off the Shelf Challenge.
Buy The History of Love on