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Book Review: The History of Love


Our local libraries have done a really neat program the last ten years or so, called One Book One Lincoln. It's a program that out of 3-5 books, anyone can cast their vote to choose one book that 'everyone reads at the same time' in our city. There are literally hundreds of copies of the OBOL, study questions, and tons of events including lectures, movies, and book clubs around the city during the Fall. I have really enjoyed reading a large portion of them, and recently saw that the 3 chosen to be voted for were available last time I was at the library. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, was the first I decided to read (followed by Zeitoun by Dave Eggers...coming soon) and for a long time it was hard to formulate an opinion about it.
The story reminded me of past OBOL winner "The Story of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, in the fact that the novel is actually about a book, and interweaves a number of different characters over different time periods to culminate in a grand reunion of sorts. Although the endings are obviously different, Krauss wrote a story that was about many characters, lost loves, mystery, and loneliness.
This story is achingly beautiful, quirky, and humorous, but somewhat hard to read. The thoughts (in most) sections write like a brain-dump. An inconsistent and sometimes illogical, though funny, train of thought that most people would assume too mundane to share. And yet.
The plot of the story is an old man waiting for death retells the story of his first and only love, Alma, through writing a book, The History of Love, and in his old age, finding a girl of 15, named after 'all the Almas in the book' links him to his past, and astonishingly, the son he never knew.
It's a very strange and often confusing read, because there are so many characters in so many different settings that other than the girl, Alma, you're not really sure who, exactly, is true, talking and alive.
The writing, however, is beautiful and often very funny. The descriptions are fantastic and the metaphors are rich. I would recommend this story to someone who loves to read, and is looking for something a bit more deep than a beach read about shopping and boyfriends. I give it four stars for authenticity, stunning descriptions, and for a circle I haven't been quite able to connect yet.
Have you read this? Did you like it?


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