Book Review: The History of Love

The History of Love
By Nicole Krauss
252 pages (though some pages only have one sentence…I’m counting them all anyway 😉 )
Finished 7/6/08

Summary:

Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother’s loneliness. Believing that 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 named Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the lost love who, 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…

This one came into my hands by way of my librarian sister-in-law. She sent me home with a big ‘ol bag of books a couple of months ago and I’ve been wittling away at them in between library books that I’ve had on hold as they come in. So far, I’ve liked everything that she sent. I’m not so sure about this one.

I have a feeling that it’s supposed to be a good book, but I finished it feeling completely confused….a total feeling of “HUH?”. To start off, you enter the world of Leo Gursky. He’s an old man, a bit crude in his advanced age, but somewhat entertaining. Then, you meet Alma Singer. The chapters alternate between the two characters, both written in the first person. I had a hard time shifting gears so much and often found myself turning back several chapters to refresh my memory about where each character’s story left off. Then, about two-thirds of the way in, the story of a third important character comes into the forefront, which tangles the web of stories even more. At one point, I found myself reading on only because I had made it so far, and not because I had any idea of what was going on in the story.

As the book started to wrap up and I was able to see where the story would like go, I breathed a sigh of relief: all of this confusion was going to come together and make sense. Wrong. The last pages of the book left me even more confused than ever. I have no idea who was real, who wasn’t, who was alive, who was dead, did anything I read actually happen to any of the characters or was it all imagined….no closure whatsoever.

Maybe a second reading would be more enjoyable…I might be able to decipher some of the tangled story lines a little better the second time around. I doubt I’ll give it that second chance though, at least not anytime soon. I just didn’t get this book. Carla, if I’ve missed the target this time and you want to enlighten me, you’ve got my number 😉 .

2008 Page Count: 5553

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One Response to “Book Review: The History of Love”

  1. Carla Says:

    Jenn-

    I’m so sorry you didn’t like it. We can talk about it later….if you even want to. I should have warned you that it left you with a “Huh?!?” at the end…though I thought it was a good “Huh?!?” and not a bad one….though it could probably go either way. I can’t remember if you liked Life of Pi…but I thought that “Huh?!?” at the end was a bad one…I liked this one better….if that makes sense.

    Anyhow…you have liked most of my other suggestions, so I hope I haven’t lost your trust….I’ll try harder next time.

    Carla

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