Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: The History of Love

I am so behind in my blogging.  Life seems even more fast-paced and crazy busy since I graduated, and I just haven't had the time to document a lot of the exciting goings-on.  As I may have mentioned, I have been doing a lot of sewing of skating costumes, which means I have been getting paid to sew a lot of skating costumes, which means I have had a bit more of a cash influx than I had anticipated.  Which is good, because it means I can use my hobby to fund my hobby.  Which means I have a few exciting things to show off once I get some photos uploaded.  In the meantime, I am trying to get caught up on blog things, so here is a book review that has been half-written for a few weeks.


My sister is an even larger bibliophile than I am.  Her book obsession might be comparable to my Burda obsession.  It might surpass it.  So it is no surprise that over the years our literary collections have mixed and mingled quite a bit.  So much so that the stack of books she has given me to read occupy their own shelf in my bedroom.  Despite her constant pestering, I have been quite slow in getting to that stack, but when I do the effort is usually well worth it.  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is no exception.

The History of Love is a fantastic novel that weaves together the lives of a young girl who is looking to find a romantic interest for her mother, and an old man who is looking to make a connection with the son who never knew he existed.  They deal with ever-changing emotional landscapes that are relatable and interesting.  This book will tug at the heartstrings of its readers, but the emotional investment is well deserved.

The premise of the novel is quite straightforward, but the characters are deliciously complex.  They all seem to exhibit an emotional range that is both complicated and contradictory, which makes them feel incredibly real.  Despite this, each character has a very distinct and unique voice, which lends itself well to the overall theme of the book; exploring the many aspects of love.  It looks at love from all sides - the fumbling confusion of a young first love, and the bittersweet devotion of a true love lost to time and circumstance.  It explores how hope, loss, and dispair can emphasize what is truly important in life.

The writing itself is wonderful.  Each character is written in a different style, which makes them seem even more distinct and realistic.  The overall themes of the book can be seen in each character's story arc, even though the characters are all at various phases in their lives.  Their stories are all woven together with a common thread (the book is titled after the fictitious book called "The History of Love" that is central to the plot) that makes the story feel continuous and effortless, even though the individual character stories are written in very different, almost disjointed, styles.

Regardless of what sort of books you usually like to read, The History of Love should make it onto your list.  Wonderful writing, complex characters, and a study of relationships that anyone can relate to all come together to make this a truly fantastic book.  I found it to be a quick read, and well worth the time I devoted to it.  It isn't a book I would normally pick up, but I am very glad my sister prodded me into reading this novel.  Highly recommended.


  1. I read this book several years ago when it first came out and really loved it. I heartily second your recommendation.

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