The History of Love


The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. New York times Bestseller. "Fourteen-year old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing that she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author. Across New York an old man named Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the lost love who, sixty years ago in Poland, inspired him to write a book. And although he doens't know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives..."

I really enjoyed this book. Based on the summary I thought I had it figured out from the beginning, but the story is a little more complex than it appears. It is told from various character's viewpoints and all ties together in the end. As the Washington post said, "At least as heartbreaking as it is hilarious." It was an easy read and a pleasant one. I am always drawn to books with Jewish characters for some reason, and this was no exception.

Page 51, "Bird asked what paleontologist was and Mom said that if he took a complete illustrated guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shred it into a hundred pieces, cast them into the wind from the museum's steps, let a few weeks pass, went back and scoured Fifth Avenue and Central Park for as many surviving scraps as he could find, then tried to reconstruct the history of painting, including schools, styles, genres, and names of painters from his scraps, that would be like being a paleontologist. The only difference is that paleontologists study fossils in order to figure out the origin and evolution of life." - I like this because when I was little I wanted to be a paleontologist and I've never heard a job description quite like this one.

Page 53, "While I waited, I read one issue of Fossil magazine. Then I asked the secretary, who was laughing out loud about something on his computer, if he thought Dr. Eldridge would be back soon. He stopped laughing and looked at me like I'd just ruining the most important moment of his life. I went back to my seat and read one issue of Paleontologist Today." -I thought this was hilarious.

Page 57, "If you remember the first time you saw Alma, you also remember the last. She was shaking her head. Or disappearing across a field. Or through your window. Come back, Alma! you shouted. Come back! Come back! But she didn't. And though you were grown up by then, you felt as lost as a child. And though your pride was broken, you felt as vast as your love for her. She was gone, and all that was left was the space where you'd grown around her, like a tree that grows around a fence. For a long time, it remained hollow. Years, maybe. And when at last it was filled again, you knew that the new love you felt for woman would have been impossible without Alma. If it weren't for her, there would never have been an empty space, or the need to fill it." - What an interesting, hopeful perspective.

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