Friday, March 22, 2013

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Earlier this week, my book group discussed The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Wonderful characters, poetic language, and multiple story threads that come together beautifully are the strengths we all appreciated in this work. The two main characters are Leo Gursky, a lonely and eccentric elderly Jewish man, and fourteen-year-old Alma Singer, who is grieving the death of her father and worrying about the mental states of her mother and younger brother. They all live in New York City.

Leo narrowly escaped Nazi persecution in Poland when he was boy. His lifelong devotion to his childhood flame, Alma, has helped him to survive. Alma Singer's parents named her for the character in their favourite book, The History of Love... the very same Alma that looms so large in Leo's life.

Some book group members experienced difficulty keeping track of the different plot lines in the early part of the book, especially since there are two characters named 'Alma.' Two of us had listened to the audiobook version [Recorded Books: 9 hrs 50 min] and we had no trouble with the changing points of view. This audio production has four narrators -- George Guidall, Barbara Caruso, Julia Gibson, and Andy Paris -- which makes it easy to sort everyone out. Guidall is an expert at pacing, one of the most crucial aspects of oral storytelling. His rich timber is just perfect for Leo's voice. I played a little of the audiobook for the rest of the group and the enjoyment was unanimous.

Our group liked The History of Love so much that we have added Great House, another of Krauss' books, to our upcoming reading list.

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