For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet's daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer's life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father's study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944.
Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.
Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?
Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.
One of the best things about being a BookBrowse book critic is gaining advance notice that a favorite author has written a new book. Which is why, as soon as I learned that Nicole Krauss had a new novel slated for release, I jumped at the opportunity to review it. I have been a fan for a while and couldn't wait to read her latest. She did not disappoint. Great House possesses the same inventive, graceful prose that she's known for. (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
[M]editative, insightful prose that makes for an intense and memorable reading experience.
Brainy and often lyrically expressive, but also elusive and sometimes infuriatingly coy; Krauss is an acquired taste.
Starred Review: Krauss’ masterful rendition of character is breathtaking, compelling.... This tour de force of fiction writing will deeply satisfy fans of the author’s first two books and bring her legions more.
Starred Review. This stunning work showcases Krauss's consistent talent.... Much like in Krauss's The History of Love, the sharply etched characters seem at first arbitrarily linked across time and space, but Krauss pulls together the disparate elements, settings, characters, and fragile connective tissue to form a formidable and haunting mosaic of loss and profound sorrow.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kris The Empty Desk I am sad to report that I truly believe this book had the best of intentions to be a wonderful novel. Without question, the idea of a desk and it's symbolic power to a writer is very interesting and captivating. Unfortunately, I believe the book... Read More
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth Not the good book I was expecting An empty apartment, a friend who has furniture to give away, and now a furniture-filled apartment with lots of stories and a wonderful desk.
Then....after twenty-five years, the desk that she loved was being claimed by a relative of its... Read More
Although Nicole Krauss's three books to date would not be classified as magical realism (a style, according to Wikipedia, wherein, "normal occurrences are presented in a straightforward manner, which allows the 'real' and the 'fantastic' to be accepted in the same stream of thought") there is in her books an element of the magic that exists in everyday life. These occurrences are no less magical for being easily written off as coincidence, or ascribed to déjà vu or the smallness of the planet.
For example, in The History of Love (2005), Krauss's second novel after Man Walks Into a Room (2002), Leo Gursky, a young Polish man fell in love with a beautiful woman named Alma in the late 1930s. He was so enraptured by her that he wrote a book called The History of Love and named the heroine Alma. As the Nazis marched into Poland, Leo was forced to leave Alma, his family and the unpublished manuscript behind. He immigrated to the United States and began an apprenticeship with his locksmith cousin, eventually taking over the business. Leo...
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...