This book should come with a warning: Included within these pages is a mixed bag of emotions. It follows the lives of several seemingly unrelated characters… except they all have reason to appreciate the little known, but very powerful book “The History of Love”. Take Leo Gursky for example. He is a lonely, elderly gentleman who is just trying to be noticed so that his inevitable death is not completely overlooked. He has no idea that this book exists. I liked Leo immediately for his cynical sense of humor (see my Teaser Tuesday from earlier this week). But Leo has had more than his share of sadness…. he lost his entire family to the Nazi’s, and even more – he lost the only woman he ever truly loved. A love so true, that it could never be replaced.
The book is not only about Leo, but also Alma Singer; Alma who was named after every woman in “The History of Love”. Alma is only fourteen or fifteen years old, but when her father passed away several years earlier – he took her mother’s heart with him. Her mother is depressed and lonely, and still pines after her only true love, her husband. A love that also could never be replaced. But Alma wants to try and help her not be so lonely anymore… so she searches for answers that lie in the book her father once gave her mother – “The History of Love”. Alma discovers truths that had been buried for decades…. and helps heal along the way.
Such a beautiful book that just invites you in so easily… I absolutely loved the final sequence. There are times when I am reading that I start to picture how it may look on screen (maybe I should have been a producer or something) but this is the very first time that I imagined a play. Maybe I just have plays on the brain – I have an itch to reread Cat on a Hot Tin Roof again – but all I could see was a dark stage. The final sequence alternates, quickly, between Leo and Alma. I could just picture them on a dark stage, standing and staring into the audience, a light shining only on the one speaking their thoughts. The lights flash more rapidly between them, until it is all bright, and you see the final scene….. and the audience collectively cries their eyes out.
The History of Love
by Nicole Krauss
W.W. Norton & Company, 2005