It has been decades since Leo Gursky first surrendered his heart, then wrote a book about it, at the tender age of 10, and he's been in love with the same person ever since. Leo believes his book is lost to time, but what he doesn't know is, not only has it survived 60 years without him, it has also been an inspiration to others. Fourteen-year-old Alma was even named for a character from the book. When she realizes how deeply the story touched her lonely mother, she embarks on a search for answers.
The History of Love is an imaginative tale of love and loss that is at once funny, mysterious, and deeply passionate.
Don't miss Nicole Krauss and Salman Rushdie at The New Yorker Festival.
©2005 Nicole Krauss; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
"An intriguing books-within-a-book narrative....Venturing into Paul Auster territory in her graceful inquiry into the interplay between life and literature, Krauss is winsome, funny, and affecting." (Booklist)
"Writing with tenderness about eccentric characters, [Krauss] uses earthy humor to mask pain and to question the universe. Her distinctive voice is both plangent and wry, and her imagination encompasses many worlds." (Publishers Weekly)
"If for no other reason than the range of voices she has persuasively created, Ms. Krauss would stand out as a prodigious talent....Ms. Krauss's work is illuminated by the warmth and delicacy of her prose." (The New York Times)
I've been listening to Audiobooks for over a year, and this is the first time I've felt compelled to write a review. I listened to this back in May. The story is still with me. Leo Gursky is a character that will not soon leave you, and the narrator of his voice makes him come alive. Download now -- you won't be disappointed.
I think the title drew me to the novel, but I wouldn't have expected to enjoy it as much as I have. The voices that the narrators give to the voices that Nicole Krauss created are perfect. Though I found the voice of Alma irritating at times, it is the right voice for the character. Leo Gursky's humor is priceless and his pain is palpable. The manner with which all the novel's characters are connected seems extraordinary and improbable and yet completely plausible at the same time.
In a world of fast paced, too-quickly written fiction, this beautiful work of art is slow and lush. The language is simple and strong. The images evoke a tangible reality. The characters (specifically Leo Gursky) are developed from youth through senility with a careful, respectful hand. "The History" could have been written by an older writer, but Nicole Krauss' youth is filled with promise.
Historical iterary references are beautifully and realistically incorporated into fiction.
But the most amazing aspect of the book (which is a story about a book) is the voice, the language. Leo Gursky, one of the primary narrators, speaks in the first person of his past and present, his fears, longings, regrets. What might be called "digression" in another writer, here is done so naturally that the reader/listener travels with Leo from Poland to New York and back without disruption. Switching between a young narrator and Leo is equally smooth and credible. I longed to finish it, regretting it was over.
I too want to find Alma (all the Almas). I suffered to learn Issac may have (ultimately did) know of his father for a time when his father knew of him. Young Alma, the child in all of us, the seeker, the caretaker, the lover of life sought her father in every way she could.
The end, a little confusing for me. Did it happen this way? Did young Alma fill for Leo the void he carried those many years? Or had he, as he suggested, lost his mind?
And the surprising ascension of *Bird* to secretly help his sister's search, earning himself the title of *lamed vovnik,* added even more depth and parallelism.
I admit I borrowed the book from the library. Between listens, I went back and read from the book to clarify some of the plot that I feared I had missed.
The last 30 minutes (30 pp or so) were satisfying and explanatory and moving and wonderful.
Did I cry? Yes. A bit, at the end, from happiness. Did I laugh? Yes. Many, many times.
What a surprise, a divine revelation to find this treasure buried among the cast offs in Audible's last sale. How is it possible that the title "A History of Love" is not shouted from the roof-tops, bill-boarded along reader's highways and passed around slyly like a rumor between friends-in-the-know.
Or perhaps it is, and I am just out of the loop, confused by the lack of awards notices on a book that is so far superior to the NY Book Review, Pulitzer, Oprah and Best Seller marks plastered on less-deserving works.
Though mysterious and filled with shadings of poetry, magical realism and literary allusion this book is nonetheless well grounded in the here-and-now, and straight forward in narrative.
Of note, the audio version may be superior to the printed in that the listener is spared the work of guessing when voices change, and who is narrating. Also, because the four actors in this recording give outstanding, lyrical and pitch-perfect performances.
PS: Please save discovery of the narrative for your own pleasure, and avoid pre-reading the plethora of (mostly favorable) reviews about this book. I went through a few after listening, and felt the destructive weight of the spoilers among the praises, even for a book I had already read. Don't let someone else trample through this garden before you've had your joy of it.
Every once in a while a book is so powerful that you never want it to end. I will miss all the Alma's and Leo. What happened to Bruno? Was he real, or a figment of Leo's imagination? I sat transfixed in my car wondering how they could be gone. The connections were rich, amazing how in a city the size of New York--Germany, South American it might be possible for those connections. Those of us in small towns are never surprised by knowing everyone, but secretly hope that in large cities there may be anonymity. Every voice, every turn of events, was so well crafted by this author, (and the readers) that I was sad it had ended and have engineered my own hopes for the characters.
I hate chick lit. So, with a title like the History of Love, you might expect chick lit. Not so. Does this mean dudes will like it? Probably not, but it's not that ridiculous self-obsessed Sex in the City crap. This is a very touching book about love and a book about love. (You read that right.)
I was charmed by both Leo and Alma. I was convinced of their ages and emotional states as much by the writing as the excellent narration. Alma's list-making was a particularly inventive way to tell her parts of the tale.
Although, it seems a small part of the story, the book within a book also has some imaginative prose/ideas.
I thought the author particularly bold in one instance to suggest that an obituary Leo has written is a superior and inspired piece of writing. We accept this as fact, forgetting that its author is not the fictional Leo, but Ms. Krauss. Suffice it to say, she is a talent.
So, if you appreciate a creative yarn that's well written with quirky characters and NOT chick lit, this is a good option.
I have listened to over 200 audio books and this one is one of my favorites. It is a wonderful story with very interesting characters that you really feel for. The intertwining of several stories and the authors wonderful way with words made it all the more enjoyable. Every time I had to stop listening, I really looked forward to starting again. I highly recommend this wonderful book.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Like poetry for the mind is this narration of The History of Love, a walk through pre-WWII Poland when two children were carefree, discovering themselves and each other, pledging a lifetime of love for one another . . . and a girl named Alma that a ten year boy, Leo, loved so much that he wrote down his love for her, in a book, and in letters, that survived the Holocaust, a journey to America, The History of Love, buried and rediscovered, loved by another, translated, yet still Leo's book . . . Growing so old . . . Leo wonders, will today be the day that I die? . . . yet he still remembers his Alma . . . he's outlived them all . . . a blessing or a curse? . . . and another Alma, a young Alma, on a parallel journey, has lost her father, how is she connected to Leo's Alma? Only Love knows . . .
Not a book to read when you are down, The History of Love explores the ups, the downs, and the challenges of growing old, with a sideshow of serendipity thrown in. I can not say enough about George Guidall. A true master of narration, Guidall brings Krauss's protagonist to life, and stands him in front of us, holding a mirror to our face so we can clearly see what the future holds for all of us... if we are lucky enough to get that far. Read it. On a good day.
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