Good Book Using a Difficult Subject Apr 12, 2007
"The History of Love" stars Leo Gursky, an elderly Polish gentleman who lives in New York, having escaped Poland just before the Nazi invasion. When he was a young man, he fell in love with a local girl and was inspired to write a novel entitled "The History of Love." Along side Leo's story is the story of a girl named Alma Singer, a young teenager who was named after the main character in a novel entitled "The History of Love." Slowly, Alma and Leo's stories begin to converge in an ending that is both cinematically sentimental and oddly moving.
I've always raised my eyebrows at fiction that centers around characters who survive a monumental tragedy. And by that I mean tragedy that is of an epic scale (9/11, the Holocaust, WWII, etc.). Usually an author can't help but overindulge in one cliche after another on the resilency of the human spirit, the nature of courage, the power of love, blah, blah, blah. I'm not saying survival of such a harrowing experience is a bad subject for a book. I just think the subject deserves better than the tripe that's out there. Still, I give praise for Krauss handling the topic pretty skillfully. There are moments when she does overplay the poignancy, but in general, her writing is concise enough and her story's structure straightforward enough, to keep the overall tale a nice read.