History of Love

Title: This History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss
Pub: 2005; WW Norton & Company
Pages: 253
Genre: Literary, Romance

"The shop owner did not try to push the book on any of her customers. She knew that in the wrong hands such a boo could easily be dismissed or, worse, go unread. Instead she let it sit where it was in the hope that the right reader might discover it." (74).

When I set this book aside, the very first thought that came to me was: If I were to die today and this was the last book I ever read I would be content. Not focusing on the morbidity of that thought, could you hear my jaw drop in the netosphere? Did the extended sigh break the sound barriers?

"An hour or two went by. It must have been a good conversation, because the next thing he knew Alma had told him to close his eyes. Then she kissed him. Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering. He felt his body shaking. He was scared he was about to lose control of his muscles." (62)
Merely having read 24 pages of The History of Love, I stopped to jot down these thoughts in my book journal: "Am immediately caught by the beauty of the language. I wish I could hold myself within the words because they are so soft and so inviting. I know that they would be velvet against my skin."

This is the story of Leo Gurskey, a Polish curmudgeon who loved and lost and has been exclusive, elusive, and somewhat bitter since. In the midst of World War II he is but a young lad of maybe ten who meets Alma, the love of his life. Alma, his breath, life, and half. And then Alma leaves to the states, fleeing from Hitler's reign.

"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. When the sky grew dark they parted with leaves in their hair." (11)

They are in their teens. Leo promises to love her forever. And he does. No matter that Alma has a new life in the new world and Leo is left empty watching his son grow up with another father.

"Perhaps that is what it means to be a father - to teach your child to leave without you. If so, no one was a great father than I." (164)
This is also the story of Alma, the young girl in present time whose parents named her after the heroine, Alma, in the book The History of Love which was purchased by Alma's father and given to her mother during their courtship. This is the story of how Alma seeks out the author of The History of Love, seeks out the Alma that she was named after because her mother is devastated and heartbroken and empty because the love of her life - Alma's father - died.

This is also the story of the author of The History of Love, Zvi Litvinoof and his undying love for his wife, who is not Alma.

This is the story of Misha, a young boy who has been friends with the young Alma in search of the Alma that she was named after. But Misha has realized that he is in love with Alma. And Alma doesn't know what that means.

This is the story of Leo's son and his life as a writer. And his life with hidden secrets.

Finally, this is the story of the book The History of Love and how this one tiny piece of work could change so many lives through so many decades.


  1. This is such a beautiful book. I can't wait for her new one.

  2. This sounds like a lovely book. I hadn't realised it would be so good. I shall definitely add it to my list.

  3. OH! I have this one and have yet to read it. Sounds LOVELY. Why do I keep getting it confused with The Historian!?

  4. I read this one such a long time ago and couldn't remember much about it except that I loved it. Your review reminded me part of why I loved it so much!

  5. I haven't read this one yet, and though I'm curious about it, I'm even more curious about your book journal. Your writing is lovely!

  6. I'm kicking myself for not reading this book yet! I even have it on my shelves somewhere and just haven't gotten around to it. I do have an ARC of her next book, Great House, and I'm hoping it will be as stunning as this one seems to be.

    Great review!

  7. Wow, saying you could die with this as the last book read is quite the recommendation. I'll have to move this up the to-read pile.

  8. Ana - I know! I haven't read her earlier work, have you?

    Vivienne - I wasn't expecting it to be that wonderful either. I'm happy it was.

    Care - I think it's the "Histor" part in the title. *wink*. Seriously. I have The HIstorian on my bookshelf as well. When I picked up The History of Love I had no idea what to expect.

    Jenny - Usually I"m not fond of alternate stories interweaving themselves with different narrators. This one works though.

    Charley - LOL. Thank you! I have only recently started keeping a journal, maybe five months? (We'll see how long it lasts). I found that I delay my reviews way too long to remember what they were really about or what impressed me the most.

    Andi - Stop what you're doing and read this book. :P

    Trisha - I KNOW! Can you believe it?! I really meant it too. (Until the next great book comes along?!?)

  9. "Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." <<<Oh! This sounds so lovely!

    Great review! I've heard so many wonderful things about this book. I must read it now.


  10. Missie - Don't you just LOVE that quote!! *le sigh*

  11. I have this one and will be reading it soon. I hope I like it as much as you did! Great review :)


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