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May 2018: Family Drama > The History Of Love- 4 Stars

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is an intricately woven love story. Love lost and emotional reconciliation that shows us reconciliation is not always complete. The foundation to this story is of a young Jewish man and woman in Poland who are childhood lovers. The horrors of the Holocaust and World War II separate and are never able to repair their relationship after each has moved forward, the with the young girl going to the United States to live in safety. With this come a new live and new relationships dictated by circumstances. Alma, the beautiful Jewish girl who escapes from Poland as a pregnant unmarried woman is only trying to survive in place where she is faced with a new culture, new people, while accepting that she had to leave everyone she loved behind . For her lover, Leo Gursky, he is left behind to survive the war in the forest for three years. Eventually he is able to go to America where he is faced with the many changes the war created. Leo has written a book about his childhood telling how the chaos of war leads him to believe that it has been lost.

A second storyline in the story involves Leo's journalist best friend, Zvi, who survives the war by fleeing to Chili, and there he falls in love and marries a younger woman named Rosa. Zvi has brought with him Leo's novel which he puts away for many years. After reading it again he decides to translate it from Yiddish to Spanish as a gift to his wife and to impress her. As he does this he changes little things such as names and Rosa pushes Zvi to publish the book in Spanish, which Zvi warily does since it is not his book. While eventually Rosa discovers the truth, she believes that Zvi's love for her was the driving force in the deception, therefore ignoring what he has done.
The book is purchased and read in Buenos Aires by an American Jew, David Singer, and in turn he presents this book to his wife Charlotte, honoring their love. This book touches them so deeply that they name their daughter Alma after the central character in the novel.

The third and last story line in this book is a request from a mysterious man, named Jacob Marcus to translate the Spanish novel into English. Marcus makes this request of Charlotte Singer, who is a professional translator, after the death of her beloved husband David. The young daughter, Alma Singer becomes involved and tries to sort out who Alma, Leo, Zvi, and Jacob Marcus could really be.

Through a tangled web of letters, manuscripts, translations, and twists of fate, and sometimes just luck the characters interact. Some of the characters have died years ago, others imaginary, while others living in another world of their own reality. Yet together all of the characters create a tapestry of how painful loss can be. This books central theme is that human existence is often series of losses and attempts to recover from those loses. Family and love is such a vital dynamic to each and every one of us. When we are separated by war, by sickness, or by death of someone we love so much, such as a husband or a child it profoundly changes out lives. It is then that we learn to recover slowly but also come to terms with or new realities. From here do we survive or do we thrive? This is the theme that Leo uses for the second novel he writes, which ironically he also published under the name of another.

The book certainly deserves 4 stars for it’s interesting characters and amazing humor by which painful life experiences are explored with a touch of wit. I really enjoyed this book but what holds me back from giving this 5 starts is that Nicole Krauss has woven too complicated a plot with so many twists and turns. Often trying to enjoy the resolution of events while trying to remember so many mundane hints and loose ends left hanging throughout the story. Often I felt that this began to overpower the message. In spite of this I did enjoy the book and the theme of human reality, loses, and love.


message 2: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6893 comments Rachel wrote: "This is an intricately woven love story. Love lost and emotional reconciliation that shows us reconciliation is not always complete. The foundation to this story is of a young Jewish man and woman ..."

Is this the History of Love by Nicholas Krauss?


message 3: by Magdalena (new)

Magdalena | 414 comments Great review! This does sound like it could get a bit confusing but it also sounds fascinating.
When I went to look it up I couldn't find it under the name The History of Life but I found what I think is the book you're talking about under the name The History of love.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Booknblues it is The History of Love. I typed my review on pages and apparently it corrected it. I just got a MacBook and after using PC for years there are nuances I’m figuring out.:)


message 5: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6893 comments Rachel wrote: "Booknblues it is The History of Love. I typed my review on pages and apparently it corrected it. I just got a MacBook and after using PC for years there are nuances I’m figuring out.:)"

Reading your review, I thought it sounded very familiar, but had never heard of History of LIfe and then ding Light bulb moment.


message 6: by Magdalena (new)

Magdalena | 414 comments Okay I thought I'd found it. I tried looking it up as The History of Life and then when nothing came up I looked it up by the author and found The History of Love.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9384 comments Rachel, that was an exceptionally written review! I’ve never almost seen a more beautifully well done review. I just read this book last year, in fact for a challenge for this group, the high notes challenge. And I have to say that I also loved this book. I think it ended up in my top 15. We are because of this group I have read so many exceptional books it’s almost hard to choose. I could probably put together a top 10 right now for 2018. Last year they were just five leftover almost indistinguishable from number 9 and 10. I adored this book and it hit all the high notes for me. Glad you loved it too.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Truly I am discovering so many great books with this group Amy. My TBR just gets longer and longer. Thank you.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

BooknBlues I was laying in bed reading your comment, thinking I should get up and edit the title. I just couldn't bring myself to do this until this morning!


message 10: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6893 comments Rachel wrote: "BooknBlues I was laying in bed reading your comment, thinking I should get up and edit the title. I just couldn't bring myself to do this until this morning!"

I can appreciate that. Some things just need to be left undone until morning. Sleep is more important.


message 11: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6407 comments Love this book.

Just a suggestion .... when you create your post ... if you type in the book title in the "this topic is about" field, you can include that information in your thread title. Wait a few nanoseconds after typing ... DO NOT hit enter. When the pop-up window appears click on the book you want to feature. VOILA! This will result in your rating of the book appearing next to your user name in any post in this thread. Ditto for anyone who responds.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you very much for the suggestion. This is really helpful. This was my second post for a book for this group. Any advice is greatly appreciated!


message 13: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 485 comments I really liked this book too.


message 14: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I adored this book. It was in my Top Ten the year I read it.


message 15: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2105 comments Another book for TBR. Thankyou Rachel for a great review.


message 16: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments Love this one!


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