Reviews for History of Love
Booklist Reviews 2005 March #2
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. ((Reviewed March 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 February #2
The histories of several unresolved, inchoate and remembered loves.The first of the stories here is that of New York City octogenarian Leo Gursky, a Polish war refugee who came to America seeking Alma, the girl he had loved, who had emigrated before him. Following a bleakly funny opening sequence that sharply dramatizes Leo's undiminishable vitality, and also reveals teasing details about Alma's American life, second-novelist Krauss (Man Walks into a Room, 2002) shifts the focus to adolescent Alma Singer, who's edging cautiously toward womanhood while dealing with her unstable younger brother Emanuel (aka "Bird") and widowed mother Charlotte (a literary translator). Alma's memories of her late father, a cancer victim, take the forms of a fixation on survival techniques and an obsession with an autobiographical book (which Charlotte translates): a homage to another Alma, and the work of Holocaust survivor Zvi Litvinoff, whose resemblances to and connections with Leo Gursky lie at the heart of this novel's unfolding mysteries. Suffice it to say that each of Krauss's searching and sentient characters is both exactly who he or she seems to be and another person entirely, and that that paradox is expertly worked out as Krauss gradually reveals the provenance of the eponymous History; the relationship that embraces Litvinoff, Gursky and the latter's mysterious upstairs neighbor Bruno; and the woman or women they "all" loved and lost. These enigmas are deepened and underscored by the chaotic "diary" in which Bird records the apocalyptic fantasies that are at heart his own history of love and loss, another son's search for another father, and an affirmation of the compensation for loss through exercise of the imagination that this brilliant novel itself so memorably incarnates.A most unusual and original piece of fiction-and not to be missed. First serial to New Yorker; film rights to Warner Bros., David Heyman to produce and Alfonso Cuar-n to direct; Book-of-the-Month Club, Quality Paperback Book Club selection; author tour Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2005 January #1
Decades ago, in his little Polish village, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. Now a girl named for the book's protagonist wants to find him. Norton's lead fiction for the season; rights have been sold in 14 countries. With a 13-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal Reviews 2005 April #2
A boy in Poland falls in love and writes a book when World War II arrives, and both the love and the book are lost. Leo Gursky, now in his eighties and living in New York City, struggles to be noticed each day so that people will know he has not yet died. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Alma Singer wants her brother to be normal and her mother to be happy again after the death of Alma's father. In a quest for the story behind her name, Alma and Leo find each other, and Leo learns that the book he wrote so long ago has not been lost. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room) develops the story beautifully, incrementally revealing details to expose more and more of the mystery behind Leo's book, The History of Love. At the end, some uncertainty remains about a few of the characters, but it does not matter because the important connections between them are made. Recommended for literary fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/05.]-Sarah Conrad Weisman, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 February #3
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. Agent, Bill Clegg at Burnes & Clegg. First serial to the New Yorker; BOMC, QPB and Reader's Subscription selections; author tour; film rights to Warner Brothers; audio rights to Recorded Books; foreign rights sold in 15 countries. (May 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.