by Julie HaleMay, 2006
The History of Love
A unique and timeless love story, this critically acclaimed novel spans six decades. An elderly immigrant who fled his native Poland to get away from the Nazis, Leo Gursky is a former locksmith living in New York City. Displaced and lonely, he faces old age with remorse for his former love, for his missing son and for a novel he wrote long ago and lost. The novel, as it happens, is called The History of Love, and it was published years before in Chile under the name of a different author. Paralleling Leo's story is that of another New Yorker, 14-year-old Alma Singer, who is named after the heroine in The History of Love. Alma struggles to hold her family together, and she describes her efforts daily in her diary, pages of which form part of the narrative. Her mother, Charlotte, pines for her late husband and supports the family by working as a translator. Charlotte receives an interesting proposition from a stranger: She is offered a large amount of money to translate The History of Love from Spanish. Portions of her translations are included in the novel. As the book progresses, Krauss deepens the connections between her cast of characters in a way that's surprising and magical. Chosen for the Today show book club, this is a remarkable work about love and loss marked by startling plot twists and singular characters. A reading group guide is included in the book.