Last weekend was one of those weekends that come along every now and again where I didn’t get anywhere near a book, let alone have time to read a page or two. As I’m a homebody at heart it has been nice this week for normal reading to resume. My train book at the moment is Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, a book that’s been on my wish list for a while, spurred on recently I’m sure by the release of the film. This is my third read of Murakami’s and I’m going to hold off thinking too much about it until the end – I’m under half way through so am thinking there is still time for it to work its magic (she says crossing fingers and toes…)
Onto The History of Love. This is a book I have vaguely been aware of but never been drawn to pick up before until I read reviews of Nicole Krauss’s latest novel Great House. It really appeals to me so I thought I would try her earlier novel first.
Nicole Krauss’s characters in this novel are beautifully painted, flaws included. They are special and it is easy to be swept up in the emotion of their lives. The writing is beautiful and heartfelt, full of depth and humour. It is all about love, loss and loneliness. The History of Love of the title is a book, a book that brings the characters in the story together.
There are two main characters, Leo Gursky, a Polish holocaust survivor, now in his eighties and living an achingly solitary life in New York; trying to live while waiting to die. Each day he creates little scenes to make people notice him, from deliberately spilling his coffee at Starbucks to volunteering as a nude drawing model. Sixty years on he ruminates on the one love of his life Alma.
MY NAME IS LEO GURSKY I HAVE NO FAMILY PLEASE CALL PINELAWN CEMETERY I HAVE A PLOT THERE IN THE JEWISH PART THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Across town, a 14 year old girl named Alma is also dealing with loneliness and loss following the death of her father and the withdrawal of her mother and brother. Sensing something redemptive in her mothers favourite book The History of Love, she seeks to find out more about it.
So, my thoughts on it… I’m not sure that I've read a book about the journey of a book yet that I've really loved. I love the concept of it and definitely appreciate and admire those that I've read (apart from Shadow of the Wind which I didn't get at all) but so far there has been something that doesn=t completely gel. This is true for me with The History of Love also. Poignant characters whose separate stories were wonderful (especially the old man Leo) but when it came time for the stories to combine it didn't seem to match the beauty of the individual stories and I was disappointed with the ending. I also found it hard to follow in places. Having to struggle with the plot didn't seem in keeping with the effortless portrayal of the individual characters.
Having said that, I'm still very keen to read Great House. I will just make sure I choose the right time to curl up with it.
2005, 254 pages