Loneliness, love, survival and life are the words that come to mind after reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It’s a love story but it’s also a story of loss, pain and loneliness. It’s a story about a book that got written, kept, plagiarized and read.
The reader first meets Leo Gursky as he struggles to survive through the days in his old age. He comes across as an eccentric old man who has become slightly mad because of his life long obsession. His love for Alma has never vanished and the writer, son who doesn’t know he exists is constantly on his mind.
But the story also revolves around the teenage girl Alma who is named after a character in a book called ‘The History of Love’ and whose father has left her mother widowed and lonely. The girl is determined to cure her mother of her loneliness by finding someone new for her and when someone asks her mother to translate the book ‘History of Love’ she gets dragged into a search into the past which leads her in strange directions.
The stories are wittily twined together in a well written prose, but what makes this book exceptionally enjoyable are the characters. Leo and Alma tell their stories from their own points of view and their worlds are slowly revealed as they burrow deeper into their idée fixe. When the plot comes together the reader is left with great reverence for the war survivor Leo and for the girl Alma who relentlessly seeks happiness for her mother.
The History of Love is a wonderfully written novel about the human condition. It’s charming and witty, painful and loving and it is a book not to be looked over!