I read books.

The History of Love (Nichole Krauss)

on October 16, 2009

The History of Love is not history. It is a book about a book written by one man, and subsequently published by another, who believes that the original author has died in the Nazi camps. Ironically, the true author lives his life in insignificance, and struggles daily to make himself noticed. His worst fear is to die on a day that no one saw him.

The underlying love story of the novel is a tragedy: Leo is separated from the love of his life and sent to the camps, while his beloved Alma escapes the Jews’ fate because her father can afford to send her to America. She does not know that Leo still lives, and makes her choices accordingly. When Leo manages to follow her to America, things don’t work out as he had dreamed.  Meanwhile, a young Alma is named after the original by her parents, who love Leo’s book. When her mother begins translating The History of Love, young Alma discovers the secret of her name and the true author of the book. An additional sad/funny thread involves Alma’s little brother, who thinks he is a lamed vodnik. I don’t have a Yiddish dictionary, but I infer from the story that this means a messiah figure, which involves some special spiritual gifts. He is a quirky child, who, not surprisingly, does not fit in well with his peers.

I really like the ending of this book, but I found it confusing as I read it, and had to start over once, after I had read about a third. It was poignant in places, and overall I am glad I read it. But I did not love it as much as Amy did. Sorry, Amy.


One response to “The History of Love (Nichole Krauss)

  1. aldís baldvinsdóttir says:

    Am reading it, slowly but surely, saving it, as chocolate.

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