By Nicole Krauss; @ 2005 by W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 252 pages.
The History of Love is an engaging page turner. I laughed out loud once and cried twice.
Krauss shows incredible skill in handling the different narrators in this book. She writes convincingly as both of her protagonists, Leo Gursky and Alma Singer. Krauss also writes from the point of view of Bird, and for a brief time, I believe, takes on the omniscent narrator.
If the whole thing were written from Leo’s point of view, I guess Krauss couldn’t have introduced the twists and turns she did, but Leo felt the most authentic to me.
Krauss also has many memorable poetic insights that I found especially interesting:
At times I believed that the last page of my book and the last page of my life were one and the same, that when my book ended I’d end, a great wind would sweep through my rooms carrying the pages away, and when the air cleared of all those fluttering white sheets the room would be silent, the chair where I sat would be empty.”
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.”
I recommend The History of Love. I could understand the motivations of the characters, but I also found it frustrating. I had a hard time relating to the choices that Leo made—choices that made him unhappy. I don’t think he realized that he was making choices, but he was. Happiness is a choice, and sometimes a hard one. Despair is also a choice, one I’d rather my protagonists not make. Maybe Leo’s character had to make the choices he did, but I’m not entirely convinced.
[Re-reading my entry, I find myself a bit preachy above. Happiness is a choice, I say so easily, so knowingly. And, I suppose you can rid yourself of those things/people who make you unhappy. Ground yourself in routine. Put on your blinders and refuse to notice those things that make you think and bring you down. Now, however, I’m more inclined to believe that Unhappiness is the choice, but happiness—well, that is a gift.]