Everyday Magic in The History of Love: Background information when reading Great House

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Great House

A Novel

by Nicole Krauss

Great House by Nicole Krauss
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2010, 289 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2011, 289 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Everyday Magic in The History of Love

Print Review

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 As the Nazis marched into Poland, Leo was forced to leave Alma, his family and the unpublished manuscript behind.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 never married, and now, retired in his eighties, lives alone in a tiny New York apartment. Afraid that he might die unnoticed he makes a point of going out everyday and making himself known. Whether it's by dropping his change all over the floor at the coffee shop or by taking a job as a nude model for an art class, Leo must be seen.

Across town 14-year-old Alma Singer is struggling with a mother who seems afraid to move on with life since the death of her husband. As a literary translator she leads a cerebral life, seldom leaving the house. When her mother is offered an exorbitant fee to translate a book called The History of Love from Spanish to English young Alma tries to play matchmaker. She's certain the anonymous client who wants to read her mother's favorite book (Alma is named after the book's heroine) is a perfect love match.

What ensues is all brought about by something that, like the desk in Great House, ties these people together in ways that can easily be explained away as coincidence. No hand of God. No inexplicable forces. Krauss writes about the mundane kind of magic that everyone experiences from time to time.

Article by Donna Chavez

This article was originally published in October 2010, and has been updated for the September 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice


Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -