the History of Love by Nicole Krauss (2005)
 “Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” 

Alma Singer is named after the woman in a book called the History of Love, which her mother is translating from Spanish to English. Alma is trying to figure out who the Alma in the book is. The other main narrator is Leo Gursky, an old man who went to America to look for his love after they got separated in a small Polish town during World War II. When he finds her, she is married to another man, but Leo is the father of the oldest son. Devastated, he spends the rest of his life alone.

There are plenty of other characters and their stories, and they are all fascinating. But the way all the stories eventually become one is the best thing about the book. And Alma Singer. I definitely loved it, and as always with books I love, I have a hard time coming up with smart things to say about them. Read it and find out for yourself why it’s great.

This was this year’s final book in Line’s 1001 books reading challenge.


Great House by Nicole Krauss (2010)

Four different stories, set in New York, London and Israel are linked together by a desk. A desk that has travelled around the world, from author to author, and is ever present in the life of the current owner of it.

The narrators of the stories are all lonely and somewhat resentful people. It took me a long time before I was able to follow the writing style of the book, and then I really enjoyed it. I found the first part, called All rise to be too detailed and very close to giving up after it took me a very long time to read the first fifty pages. My favourite part was definitely Lies told by children and I wish this was also included in the second part of the book. I also enjoyed Swimming holes while True kindness was too resentful for my liking.

And of course the chapters end when they are at the most dramatic peaks. I decided, while reading the book, that I need a big antique desk when I get a great house on my own.