Last night, as I went to sleep, I felt like I had just exited a hall of mirrors. Minutes before, I had finished reading Nicole Krauss’s 2005 novel, The History of Love. Like many books in my “to read” pile, I bought it the year it was published, but other books kept being placed in front of the queue. Now, thanks to Inly’s parent book group, I was finally able to read one of the most critically acclaimed books of the past decade. Our book club discussion can’t come quickly enough. I need my friends to help me put the puzzle together. I’m sure I left a few pieces out.
The History of Love focuses on one book, many characters (some with the same names), a 60-year time span, memories, different narrators, a character I’m not sure was really “there” and, above all, sentences that took my breath away. The book may have to go back into my “to read” pile. Like a house of mirrors, it kept me guessing and, honestly, a bit confused.
At first, I kept trying to go back and make sure I “got it.” At some point, I stopped doing that and just read. Leo Gursky kept me going. The “author” of The History of Love, Gursky is now an old man who doesn’t want to be forgotten. There’s a scene, near the end of Krauss’s novel, where Gursky is visiting the home of his adult son that moved me so much, it was painful to read. In that one page, Krauss gets to the heart of aging and parenting and time and, above all, love.
Krauss’s new novel, Great House, has moved to the top of my list.