I won this book in a competition – Thanks Ragdoll Books! (Make sure you check out her blog, it’s great!) When Jennifer at Ragdoll Books wrote that The History of Love was up there with her favourite books of the year – if not all time, I was very excited to get a copy! You can read her review here.
But was Nicole Krauss’ book up there with my favourite books? I’m afraid not. In fact, I found it a bit of a disappointment. I really hate it when I don’t get on with a book that other people absolutely love, especially when the recommendation comes from a trusted someone with good taste in books!
I really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, from almost the very start, The History of Love was not for me. Firstly, I couldn’t get on with any of the characters. Polish immigrant Leo Gursky, living a lonely existence in New York, seems at first to be a quirky character with an interesting story, but I soon got bored of him. Then there’s fourteen year old Alma Singer who has recently lost her father and is trying to find someone to make her mother happy again. Her chapters are written in first person and in the format of a long and tiresome list. This was bearable for a few pages, but I found it very hard to cope with for much longer.
Alma’s lists weren’t the only part of the writing style that I did not like. The whole book is constantly flitting between different points of view, diary entries, letters, excerpts from books, distant memories… It was just too much! The book did not flow, the different formats did not match and it felt as though the storylines were trying to lead to something magnificent and magical and powerful… but the end itself was rather flat and anticlimactic.
Why did this book make everyone cry? Why has this book had such a profound effect on most people that read it? I have no idea! But please feel free to stick up for The History of Love in the comments below, because I know it means a lot to many readers – and I do hate it when other people dislike the books I love.
Buy the book by clicking on the picture below and feel free to let me know how very wrong I am!