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 X
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

Everyday Magic in The History of Love

This article relates to Great House

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 As the Nazis marched into Poland, Leo was forced to leave Alma, his family and the unpublished manuscript behind.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.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Great House. It originally ran in October 2010 and has been updated for the September 2011 paperback edition.

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: In Extremis
    In Extremis
    by Lindsey Hilsum
    International journalist Marie Colvin pushed the limits in her work and her personal life. Widely ...
  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

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.