I stayed up way too late last night, determined to finish it. This book is definitely an amazingly written piece of work — it’s moving, and quite sad. I really enjoyed this.
The History of Love focuses on three main characters, who at first, seem to have absolutely nothing in common with one another. We have an old man, Leo Gursky, a Polish immigrant to America who deeply misses his first love. The whole reason he came to America was to find her. We have 14 year old Alma Singer, whose goal is to make her single mom happy again. And we have Zvi Litvinoff, the apparent author of a book called ‘The History of Love’.
What links them all together is actually the book called ‘The History of Love.’ The connections appear slowly, because the book is not written in chronological order, but as you read, the pieces all start to fix together and each character’s love story is highlighted. The History of Love is a really cleverly written love story. It’s not a particularly happy novel, but it is touching.
I loved the characters — they each had a distinctive voice and were really fun to read about. The characters are definitely the strength of this novel, I believe. They all felt so incredibly realistic, even running off on tangents. Each of the characters just want to be loved. You get the feeling that Leo is a bit of a cranky old man, but he’s also been so lonely all these years. Alma is such a sweet girl, who just wants to find some friends and make her mom happy too. And Zvi obviously loves his wife, but harbors guilt for the lie he is hiding from her. They feel like real people with real thoughts and feelings. I really felt for them. I think anybody who has ever been deeply in love with someone can relate to them.
I found the beginning hard to get into though, mainly because you aren’t sure what’s connecting these three characters to one another. The author certainly doesn’t hold your hand — you have to figure it out on your own. It becomes clearer as you go along though, and that’s when I really started enjoying this book and the puzzle-like story. I loved how they are all connected through something as simple as a book — not even a very famous or popular book or anything, but a very obscure book. Ah, the power of books.
The ending was so sad, but it also felt very truthful, like, “We don’t always get our happy endings”. It’s definitely not the most optimistic message ever, nothing cliche like “love triumphs all”, but it does make you think and consider your own history of love. This is a very beautiful book, I’d definitely recommend it.
(Originally posted at http://skyink.net