The History of Love

The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, masterfully weaves together disparate lives in the shadow of the Holocaust. Leo Gursky and Alma were in their late teens in 1941, when Hitler invaded Poland. Alma escaped to New York. But Leo remained behind, hiding in the woods and perfecting the art of becoming invisible. He was 21 years old, and had already written three books in honor of his beloved. One of these, "The History of Love," becomes a focal point in the Krauss novel and affects the lives of those who read it.

"But it is not the only piece of writing here to do so," writes Megan Harlan of the San Francisco Chronicle. "For Krauss' novel abounds with myriad literary documents--journal entries, letters, lists, translations, excerpts from autobiography--penned by her characters, and done so in cleverly distinctive styles that spark each personality to life. Their role in Krauss' tricky, intriguing plot suggests that all writing, no matter how private or obscure, is potentially filled with transformative power and sometimes in ways neither author nor reader could hope to imagine." (San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, May 1, 2005)

The characters in The History of Love, particularly Leo Gursky and fourteen year old Alma Singer (named for the character in Leo Gursky's novel) seem so alive they could step off the page. Krauss deals with themes of loneliness and alienation masterfully, and we both laugh and cry at Gursky's antics to avoid being unnoticed. Similarly, the quirkiness of Alma and her brother, Bird, play powerfully into these themes. The reader smiles at Bird's belief that he is among the Lamed Vahviks--one of the 36 sainted people who, according to Hasidic lore, will save the world. We are unsure of whether Bird is psychotic, or merely "unusual." Like Leo Gursky, he is both comic and sad. The reader wonders whether his mother's despondency and his father's death entice this sensitive boy into the realm of his imagination. As Bird helps his sister unravel the clues behind a letter, we are drawn into the mystery. The book becomes a page-turner whose loose ends come together on Bird's final journal entry.

If you enjoy reading books with endearing characters, exquisite writing, and an engaging plot, you will relish The History of Love. This book places Nicole Krauss among the best authors of our time.

Check Our Catalog

 
Comments List

Archive posts

Collapse all

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2018 Issues

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008