Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love would not have been a book I’d choose for myself. It was a selection by one of the members of my book club, so I was committed to reading it. And I’ll confess-I didn’t buy it, but borrowed it from the library.
It seems a bit convoluted and contrived at first. You have a protagonist named Alma-a 14 year old girl in present day Brooklyn, New York. Then there is the Alma who was fortunate enough to escape from Poland before the Holocaust, and who is the long-lost love of Leo Gursky. And then there are the Almas who are the “everywomen” of The History of Love; not The History of Love that I’m writing about, but the book within the book. And who is the author of that book-Zvi Litvinoff or Leo Gursky? Krauss uses enough literary devices to make your head spin!
Believe it or not, it works. The characters are real and sympathetic. The places in the book are not described in great detail, yet are easily imagined. The story line is not linear, yet is easily followed. Nicole Krauss is a gifted writer who is able to make sense of the disparate elements of the book.
If you like your books straightforward, or with an unequivocally happy ending for all characters, then this is not the book for you. If you enjoy well-written ambiguity, enjoy!
Published in hardcover- WW Norton 2005
Softcover edition-WW Norton 2006