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History Of Love [Paperback]

Nicole Krauss
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 25 2006
A lost book reappears, drawing together the lives of the irrepressible Leo Gursky who has arrived at the end of his life, a locksmith searching for the son who’s never known him, and young Alma Singer, desperate to find her namesake and a cure for her mother’s loneliness. Gradually their stories merge into a single triumph of the imagination over loss.

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History Of Love + The Fault in Our Stars
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Product Description

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 Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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 Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath of fresh air Aug. 10 2005
By hlb
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was one of the most beautiful works I have ever read - it is definitely a modern classic. My feelings were really stirred up on this one - from an aching sadness on behalf of the players to laughing out loud. I recommend this to anyone who is seeking an easy but high quality read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound and remarkable book July 20 2006
It's a rare book that puts the reader at a loss for adjectives: astonishing, brilliant, ground-breaking, are a few that come to mind. This book is not to be missed. You will read it more than once. It is simply a gem.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars incredible work of genius Feb. 14 2006
By A Customer
Such a profound work of genius. It takes a brilliant author to write a book like this and Krauss does with grace and heart. Wonderful read - definitely a book for everyone to check out.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through time March 22 2007
"He was a great writer. He fell in love. It was his life." While those are the final words of Nicole Krauss's illuminating second novel, "The History of Love," those three short sentences only highlight what I knew all along. This a unique book, haunting and quietly funny, and which leaves you thinking about memories, about death, and about love.

Leo Gursky has a weak heart, and may die at any moment. Virtually no one knows him, and his own son never even knew of him; he drops his change and buys things, just so someone might remember him when he dies. Sixty years ago, he fled Nazi-occupied Poland to pursue a childhood sweetheart to America, but she thought he had died, and married someone else.

Before that happened, Leo wrote a exquisite ode to her, called the "History of Love," a fictional look at love's origins, its milestones, and at a mysterious girl called Alma. A copy of that book found its way into teenage Alma's household, and she was named after that mysterious woman. Now, as her grief-stricken mother translates one of the few copies into English, Alma sets out on a journey of discovery -- about the mystery author, the person who wants the translation, and the mysterious original Alma.

Nicole Krauss writes much like her husband Jonathan Safran Foer -- she also takes a look at the past and present, at immigrants, and at the journies of our elders. And the insights she shows about the nature of love, and the intersections of life and literature, are startlingly deep. Many longtime authors can only dream of such delicate sensibilities.

The writing itself is surprisingly fluid, considering that Krauss changes narrators and timeframes several times, and sometimes refers to one character by different names.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it and keep it May 7 2005
By A Customer
Somehow over the last few years (working in a bookstore will do it) I've learned to place relatively less credence in professional reviews and relatively more in reader reviews. Some of each are consulted in a quick search for a bottom line: will I like it, or won't I?
The short answer here is yes. The characters feel genuine, the story is touching, the writing literary and accessible at the same time. It is a search for people and books lost long ago, and refound, and I'm glad I found this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Emotions Sept. 16 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
When reading this book I found that there were sections of this book that were incredibly brilliantly romantic and heart captivating. I would just grasp my chest and swoon over what I just read and then it would just fall away as if it was never there and I would I feel completely lost and I would wonder where that initial flare of writing went? I so want to love this book but in the end I think that it was just a good book that could have just been so much more. That my hopes for it far out see what it actually was for me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book full of surprises July 6 2005
By Lena
Very good book. It's one of these rare cases, when I agree with all the professional reviewers. Everything works together - storyline, language. In the beginning, I got confused with different parts of story, but decided not to worry about that - and to enjoy the process, waiting patiently for parallel realities and worlds to come together - and it was worth every minute of my time. Definitely a book that I am glad to have on my bookshelf.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Oct. 17 2006
By Dani
Not sure how I got interested in a book with this title, but it it such an amazing story and it kept me wanting to read more and more. It never got boring, it had the right amount of surprises, and the characters were so well-defined and interesting and unique. So sensible. I fell in love with the main character.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I love all the literary references and the convoluted plot.
Published 2 months ago by Deborah Bakos
5.0 out of 5 stars deeply captivating
A beautifully haunting tale of love, friendship, survival and finding one's place in the world. Deeply creative in tone, The History Of Love draws the transfer in like the scent of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars Talented wrier!!
This book is a book every aspiring writer should read. It is extremely well written and hard to put down. It made me cry and laugh all in a few paragraphs. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2009 by Wayne E. Stilling
2.0 out of 5 stars History of Love
I found this book to be confusing to read. I am in a book club and 3 out of the 5 present gave the book a 3 or 4 on 10, but the other two gave it a 7.5 - 8. Read more
Published on May 18 2009 by M. Burke
3.0 out of 5 stars When love flies off the pages of a book...
That's the case with "The History of Love". Its author thought that the book he wrote decades earlier was irretrievably lost. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2008 by I LOVE BOOKS
4.0 out of 5 stars absorbing characters
I loved this novel. I especially enjoyed Leo Gursky, the main character, and all of the ways that he ensures that someone notices him each day. Read more
Published on July 2 2007 by Marsha S
4.0 out of 5 stars VERY GOOD BOOK
I liked this book very much. Another book I would love to tell everyone about is a book called The Circle of Death by Robert Rohloff. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2005 by BOOKLOVER
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