Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book Review: The History of Love

"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering."
**** (4/5 stars)
"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."
-- Publisher's Weekly 

      Last night I finished reading The History of Love and I can't wait for someone else to read it so we can talk about it! One of my favorite things in the world is when I'm reading a book and I can't stand to put it down; when it takes absolutely all of my will power to set it down without finishing it is the best. It ended up taking me far too long to finish reading this, but not because it wasn't good, I simply just had the craziest two weeks of moving and finishing class. I decided that I would use the Publisher's Weekly review since I don't feel as though I could write a summary that would do it justice, but I did find out that there is a movie  based on the book due to be released in 2012. I typically love the books so much more than the movies but I always check out the movies just to see the book from a different perspective (it is always so different than my own, I think it's good to see things differently once in a while! But this is a whole different conversation for another time). The one thing that I love about this book is the wit of the characters. Leo Gursky is often so...crotchety that it's hard to assume that he is anything but real. I will leave you to read the book for yourselves, but I have one last thing to mention. Two of my favorite quotes/passages regarding love that I had read before but had no idea what they were from are in this book!

"The fact that you got a little happier today doesn't change the fact that you also became a little sadder. Every day you become a little more of both, which means that right now, at this exact moment, you're the happiest and the saddest you've ever been in your whole life."
"How do you know?" 
"Think about it. Have you ever been happier than right now, lying in the grass?" 
"I guess not. No." 
"And have you ever been sadder?"
"No [...] "What about you? Are you the happiest and the saddest right now that you've ever been?" 
"Of course I am." 
"Because nothing makes me happier and nothing makes me sadder than you."

1 comment:

  1. wow this book sounds pretty amazing. I'm a avid reader myself and I'm always on the look out for new books. I'm gonna add this to my Amazon wish list, along with the other 200 I want to read. hehe.

    great review!