The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I will admit that I had never heard of ‘The History of Love’ by Nicole Krauss until relatively recently in spite of the huge number of endorsements it seems to have had from critics over the last few years.  The novel only came to my attention after reading some blog reviews recently which gave it extremely high praise so I decided to hunt it down at the library this week.  In a nutshell, ‘The History of Love’ tells the parallel stories of Leo Gorsky, an elderly man living in New York City who is unaware that a novel he wrote in his youth entitled ‘The History of Love’ was published under a different name, and Alma Singer, a fourteen year old girl who tries to track down her namesake from the same book who also happens to be the woman that Leo based his novel on.  However, this brief summary only scratches the surface of the intricately-drawn mystery at the heart of the story.

Readers should not be fooled by the unassuming chick-lit style cover and title – this isn’t the easiest book in the world to read or to fall in love with.  I personally found the story itself a bit confusing and had to go back over things several times.  I don’t know if this was because of the complicated structure of multiple narratives or if it was just my brain being sluggish in the 31 degree heat currently suffocating south-east England at the moment – probably a combination of both.  On the plus side, Krauss’s writing is consistently excellent, whether she is describing the awkwardness of adolescence or the loneliness of old age.  She always manages to pitch the tone perfectly for each of her diverse cast of characters so ‘The History of Love’ is worth reading just for the language if you are not too concerned about the blurring of the plot.

‘The History of Love’ is a highly original and poignant tale of love and loss with a sizeable dose of quirkiness mixed in for good measure.  Just don’t be too surprised if you lose track of what is going on in this deceptively complex novel.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

  1. I need to get my hands on this one soon!

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  2. Meag

    I’m with Beth ^^ – I need to get my hands on this book. Awesome review! I’ll be adding this to my to read list.

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  3. Sounds like a good read – thanks for the heads up!

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  4. Even though I didn’t love this book, I like your take on it. What for you was deceptively complex, I just found confusing and off-putting — but I always knewe I was missing something.

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  5. WORDMAN

    Interesting Review. I’ll have to research this author as I’ve never heard of her. I do, however, like the premise of this book. I’ll read more reviews to see if indeed it is my cup of tea. Thanks.

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  6. I agree.. I didn’t really enjoy reading it but by the end I decided I liked it. Hard to get through, but good

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  7. Glad to hear you liked this book. It firmly in my top 5 all time reads and I’m devastated when people don’t enjoy it as much as I did. If you’re interested, read my review (it’s a short one!).

    http://readingpushkin.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/the-history-of-love/

    ~ kate

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  8. This book is on my current list of all time favorites. I think the character of the old man is one of most beautiful and poignantly rendered characters I’ve ever come across. I have tremendous sympathy for him.

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  9. esther

    To all of you who were a bit confused, please read and reread!!
    The book contains so many accurate and human observations, as well as funny and witty, ironical and grotesque situation. even on fith reading you will descover pearls in every nook and crany… you cannot help but fall in love with its protagonists

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