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The History of Love [Paperback]

Nicole Krauss
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Jan 2006

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006 and winner of the 2006 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, The History of Love by bestselling author Nicole Krauss explores the lasting power of the written word and the lasting power of love.

'When I was born my mother named me after every girl in a book my father gave her called The History of Love. . . '

Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author.

Across New York an old man called Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the love lost that sixty years ago in Poland inspired him to write a book. And although he doesn't know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives. . .

'Wonderfully affecting...brilliant, touching and remarkably poised' Sunday Telegraph

'A tender tribute to human valiance. Who could be unmoved by a cast of characters whose daily battles are etched on out mind in such diamond-cut prose?' Independent on Sunday

' of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one's breath away' Spectator

Nicole Krauss is an American bestselling author who has received international critical acclaim for her first three novels: Great House (shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011), The History of Love and Man Walks into a Room (shortlisted for the LA Times Book Award), all of which are available in Penguin paperback.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1st Penguin Edition edition (6 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141019972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141019970
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A bewitching novel, it brims with all manner of romantic possibility and luminous connection' -- Harpers & Queen

'A new star in the literary firmament... one of the most touching stories you are ever likely to read' -- In Style

'Astounding, moving, very funny . . . a joy to read. Leo Gursky is brilliantly drawn' -- TLS

'Charming, tender and wholly original' -- J.M. Coetzee

‘A wonderful novel erupting with life . . . building to a perfect, heartbreaking end’ -- Daily Mail

‘Devastating . . . One of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one’s breath away’ -- Spectator

‘Undoubtedly the work of a formidably talented novelist’ -- Independent

‘Vertiginously exciting . . . vibrantly imagined . . . Ms. Krauss's work is illuminated by the warmth and delicacy of her prose’ -- New York Times

‘Wonderfully affecting . . . brilliant, touching and remarkably poised’ -- Sunday Telegraph

From the Publisher

'The History of Love' has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When they write my obituary. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a love story 8 Feb 2007
Intricately woven around the story of a book within the book, are the two worlds' of a fifteen-year-old girl called Alma Singer, and an old man called Leo Gursky, living their separate lives across New York City.

Without giving too much away (I hope!), following a theme of "lost loves" both characters strive to fill a void of emptiness and loneliness left by the departure of a loved one. Leo Gursky, epitomises the endurance of a love so all-encompassing that 60 years on from his adolescent dream a long time ago in Poland at the start of the war, he yet spends his days contemplating his lost love, his childhood sweetheart, and conspicuously drawing attention to himself in public, by knocking over shop displays, to assure himself of his existence.

At the same time, we follow the efforts of Alma Singer, desperate to ease her mother's loneliness, after the death of her father several years previously. Alma sets out to find the author of an old book her mother is translating into English at the request of an unknown stranger...

Beautfully written, there is plenty of earthy humour and sadness to take you on an enchanting and emotional journey, from war-time Poland to present day New York.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A uniquely magical novel about life 14 Mar 2006
Rarely have I read a book as enchanting and as superbly written as The History of Love. This is a spellbinding book about what it is to be human and what it can be to love. The stories told are as fascinating as the characters within. Be it an old man postponing death or a young girl postponing life the characters in this book weave stories that are achingly human and colossal at the same time. It’s a story within a story within a story that has inevitably become part of my own story and my own history of love. A book like no other.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When love flies off the pages of a book... 16 Jan 2008
That's the case with the "History of Love". Its author thought that the book he wrote decades earlier was irretrievably lost. Instead, it had survived and traveled extensively, touching and changing the life of those who read it.

I especially liked the character of old Leo Gursky, drawn vividly to say the least, a touching, funny and simultaneously heartbreaking personality, who never forgot his first and only love. She had fled their native Poland during the Holocaust to go to New York and, by the time he is able to reach her, and learns that he has a son, it's too late.

On the other side of town (we're in contemporary New York), a young girl named Alma is currently reading the translation her mother is doing of the "History of Love" -a book she knew had influenced her parents' lives- hoping that by finding out the identity of the man who had requested the translation would help her mother to find love again after her husband's untimely death. She cannot yet know that the plan she has in mind will unravel an unexpected path.

Emotional twists & turns unfold for both of these main characters, old Leo and young Alma. Without knowing each other personally and unbeknownst to them, their lives and those of their loved ones are tied by the same rope.

A tender and often wrenching story about Love in all of its forms. The only reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 (in the absence of that "half mark" which I find could be useful), is that, at times, I had to concentrate not to mix up the various characters described, despite their obvious pertinence to the story, especially when reaching the middle of the book. A bit confusing.
On the other hand, I did appreciate the thin but strong line between past and present, with an original juxtaposition and an elegant prose. It all comes together in the end and the message is incredibly moving.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Believe the hype. The History of Love is one of the most original and engaging pieces of literary fiction of the past year. The novel focuses on a book entitled The History of Love, written by Leo Gursky at age twenty in Slonim, Poland, to honor Alma Mereminski, with whom he has shared an extraordinary love. When the Nazis threaten Poland and Alma has to flee, Leo, unsure if he will escape, gives his book for safekeeping to his best friend, who is sailing to Lisbon. Leo eventually makes his way to New York, where as a locksmith, he is a "man who became invisible." His book about Alma has vanished.
Leo's story unfolds through his memories and moves back and forth in time, running in parallel with the story of Alma Singer, a 14-year-old girl named for a character in a Spanish-language book entitled, coincidentally, The History of Love, which her father bought in Valparaiso, Chile, and gave to her mother when they were newlyweds. Young Alma, lonely following her father's death, spends her days writing How to Survive in the Wild, in an attempt to control the uncertainties of her life, while her brother Bird, eleven and a half, loses himself in religion, believing he may be the Messiah. Their mother becomes a translator of books.
Gradually, the characters and their stories converge, and the reader learns how a book written in Polish came to be published in Spanish in Chile, then translated into English by Alma's mother for a client living in Venice.
The relationships of the characters as they age, their attitudes toward life, and their goals for the future create a fluid thematic structure in which characters spring to life and become the primary focus.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read
A truly beautiful read . Couldn't put this book down and read it in two days! Well written and a must read..
Published 1 day ago by summer
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written emotional roller coaster
We read this book for my book club (on my recommendation) and although it does have a very complicated plot, therefore to be read only when you have time to concentrate, it is a... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Mrs. A. Stopford
5.0 out of 5 stars A history.
Simply this is one of the best books i have ever read.
it's the sort of book i give to someone on Valentine's day to tell them that i loved them.
In fact i did.
Published 1 month ago by c adams
5.0 out of 5 stars read the book as my grand-daughter is also called alma
will read it again this coming winter in bed my family and friends are waiting their turn to get the book
Published 4 months ago by beruria newrock
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books
I would highly recommend it to anyone who want to read something original and different. I cried at various parts of this book, just because the stories are told in a manner that... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ruby
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
A wonderful book. Have read it three times and each time have got more out of it. Beautifully written and profound.
Published 6 months ago by Book Worm
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, 'big' novel
'The History of Love' is a big novel, not in the sense of volume, but scope. While ultimately enjoyable it did take me a few attempts to get caught up in the text. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Rosie Read
5.0 out of 5 stars A very gifted author
This is a wonderful book by a very gifted author, I have read three of her books and they are all a journey of pure amazement.
Can recommend wholeheartedly. Read more
Published 10 months ago by petrovna
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
One of the best I have read in a long time, a very sophisticated story with wonderful characters. Funny and deep.
Published 11 months ago by Ms M S CLAUSEN
5.0 out of 5 stars could not put it down
brill book. a book about a book. beautifully written. characters in the book are very real. this book is the kind of book that stays with you after you have finished it.
Published 12 months ago by johanna fisher
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