From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The last words of this haunting novel resonate like a pealing bell. "He fell in love. It was his life." This is the unofficial obituary of octogenarian Leo Gursky, a character whose mordant wit, gallows humor and searching heart create an unforgettable portrait. Born in Poland and a WWII refugee in New York, Leo has become invisible to the world. When he leaves his tiny apartment, he deliberately draws attention to himself to be sure he exists. What's really missing in his life is the woman he has always loved, the son who doesn't know that Leo is his father, and his lost novel, called The History of Love
, which, unbeknownst to Leo, was published years ago in Chile under a different man's name. Another family in New York has also been truncated by loss. Teenager Alma Singer, who was named after the heroine of The History of Love
, is trying to ease the loneliness of her widowed mother, Charlotte. When a stranger asks Charlotte to translate The History of Love
from Spanish for an exorbitant sum, the mysteries deepen. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room
) ties these and other plot strands together with surprising twists and turns, chronicling the survival of the human spirit against all odds. Writing with tenderness about eccentric characters, she uses earthy humor to mask pain and to question the universe. Her distinctive voice is both plangent and wry, and her imagination encompasses many worlds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the
If one were to judge from Krauss' characters, the history of love is a story of loss and survival. Budding writer Leo Gursky flees the Nazis unharmed but arrives in New York too late to marry his sweetheart. Brokenhearted, he becomes a locksmith (the source of lovely metaphors) and puts down his pen for 57 years. Just as he starts to write again, teenage Alma loses her father. She copes with her grief by reading up on how to live in the wild but worries about her bookish, increasingly isolated mother and Messiah-obsessed younger brother. Krauss, as so many have before her, including Steve Stern in The Angel of Forgetfulness
[BKL F 1 05], constructs an intriguing books-within-a-book narrative. Leo turns out to be secretly connected to a famous writer. Another Holocaust survivor woos his beloved with an unusual manuscript, and Alma turns sleuth in her quest for the real-life inspiration for her namesake, a character in a novel titled The History of Love
. Venturing into Paul Auster territory in her graceful inquiry into the interplay between life and literature, Krauss is winsome, funny, and affecting. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to the