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Great House Paperback – 7 Oct 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (7 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670919330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670919338
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,396,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Stunning. . . . I was captivated by the first chapter and never disappointed thereafter. The richness of invention, the beauty of the prose, the aptness of her central images, the depth of feeling: who would not be moved?--Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Nicole Krauss is the author of the international bestseller The History of Love, which was published by Penguin in 2005. It won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, and Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Great House" is unashamedly literary in style and while undoubtedly not everyone's cup of tea, it's hard not to admire the cleverness of Krauss. It also covers such broad issues that it's not the easiest of books to sum up in a few words. Certainly, to enjoy this book you will need to have a tolerance for cerebral fiction. You will also need to appreciate the role of the book in commenting on aspects of the human condition rather than just telling a good story. This is most certainly not a plot driven book. You should also be prepared that the stories told are unremittingly dark, sad, and almost oppressively depressing. But while all of this sounds negative, the payoff is a book of exceptional cleverness and shot through with lovely and often beautifully observed writing about the human condition and in particular about memory. It would be wrong to say that it's cerebral with no heart: there's plenty of emotional heart here, but unless you buy into the cerebral game, then it's a book that will infuriate you before you reach it.

Effectively four short stories, each split into two parts, which echo into each other and overlap in different ways. Each is told from the first person perspective. It's fair to say that there isn't always as much distinction between the tones of voice as might be ideal. Some of the overlaps are obvious, or become obvious, others are more fleeting and subtle - mere suggestions. You pick up echoes of your own memories of earlier stories as the second halves unfold - they don't always come fully formed but often as fragments of a larger story - much like memory.

At the heart of the book is a great desk which both stands for the Great House symbolism of the Jewish concept, but also a term used by Freud to describe the workings of memory.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of those books which I think you'll either love or hate. Unfortunately for me, I found this to be one of the most depressing books I have ever read and one which I really struggled to finish, (but ultimately did so after a long, hard slog).

Linked by a mysterious desk, several characters describe their completely soul destroying lives in endless dark description. This is truly a book which emphasises the black, emptiness of depression and loss and one which I found very difficult to read. I couldn't relate to the characters, became disinterested and therefore found the descriptive prose akin to wading through treacle. Whilst the characters revealed more of their secrets as the book progressed, I found myself caring less and less about what happened to them.

Make no mistake, this book is extremely well written and the descriptive prose is some of the very best I have read; but if the subject matter doesn't grab you from the off (as it didn't with me), then the book becomes difficult, repetitive and tiresome.

This is a modern fictional novel which may possibly polarise opinion. The author's power to describe and set a scene is excellent, but the book is so slow, fragmented and shrouded with depression that it makes this comparatively small book appear to be so much longer than it actually is.

Have a look at the book's synopsis and some of the other reviews before you make a decision to buy or not. I didn't enjoy it, but others have done and will continue to do so.

Just be wary, this is not a light hearted read!
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Format: Paperback
Reading Great House is like having a conversation with someone who is extremely eloquent and adept at expressing themselves, but is the most incredibly boring person you have ever met. In fact, it is like meeting four boring people, only they all sound the same and talk about the same things.

The novel hangs together as a series of short stories tenuously linked by the passage of a desk through various owners and their lives that weave around it. There is Nadia, a writer living in New York, who receives the desk from a young poet on his way back to his politically dangerous homeland of Chile, an old lawyer in Israel who loses his wife and contemplates his family ties, the husband of another writer living in England amongst her secrets and a young student, Isabel, who gets embroiled with a complicated family whilst attending Oxford University. There's not really much that can be said about the plot as there isn't one in a true sense. It's just a series of things that happens, moving back and forth through time with the tiniest of connections to one another, which I'm sure was the point : the world is a really big AND really small place at the same time.

The reason that this book has even gained two stars is because the writing is undeniably high quality. It is lyrical and expressive and communicates the often quiet sadness of life. She details the tiniest and most subtle thoughts and feelings effectively so you get a good idea of the complexity of the characters' existence. This novel very much sets out to show how within every person, however simple the appearance, there is a secret self with a labyrinth of needs and insecurities.
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