"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

14 June 2014

2014 Book Review #22: The History of Love

I started and finished this book in less than a week.

I had been reading Kellerman's latest Alex Delaware novel...about about half way through and just couldn't read it....way too slow this time and just....bleh.  Usually I enjoy his mysteries.  Not this time.

So, my college daughter recommended this to me as she read it last year for a Women's Lit course at Gordon College.  It's a piece of literary fiction and quite deep.  But easy to read, language-wise.


Alma Singer is a 14 year old girl living in NYC and trying to fix her mother's loneliness.  Dad died when Alma, and her brother "Bird" were younger and mom has been so sad ever since.

Her mother is carefully translating a very old book, so Alma sets out to find the actual author.

Meanwhile, across NYC, Leo Gursky, is a lonely, very old man, hoping to live a little bit longer after suffering his first heart attack.  He is an immigrant from Poland and a Holocaust survivor.  He spends his days day-dreaming of life in Poland 60 years ago.  He daydreams of his one love....a girl named Alma Mereminski. His love for her is what inspired him to write a book.

What Leo has not discovered yet is that his story...his book....has survived the crossing of oceans and generations......and has brought many changes to lives........

Does young Alma ever discover the author of A History of Love?

Who is Zvi Litvinoff?? Why does he "steal" the story??

Who is Issac Moritz and who is Jacob Marcus??

Read the book to discover the History of Love.


This book was so well done that it is still lingering in my thoughts. It truly is one of THE best books I have read this year. I know I say that a lot as I do love reading good fiction...but this, so far, is the best since January.  I could go into more detail about the plot but I'm afraid that would ruin it for you.  If you are interested, Wikipedia has a whole summary of the book, but I think that would ruin it for readers who want to discover this novel without any spoilers.

It is a literary work full of allusions.
Graphic design is used in this book...each character (chapter) has a different icon....i found it fascinating to see which icon was represented by each character.

This book is a "book inside a book" and the last chapter represents that as it appears in the last chapter of the History of Love....the book within this novel.

It is poignant, uplifting, sad, exasperating, funny (especially Leo and Bruno's relationship), memorable.

The style of the book is different and at first I  was easily confused as to the past vs the present. This is mainly evident in Leo's voice.  The author writes just like as though Leo is thinking.  So some of the sentence structure is fragmented.  But it is EXCELLENT how she combines the back story from Poland with the present and the story "A History of Love" within the pages of her novel.  She also points out various real-life literary authors (Cervantes, author of Don Quixote for example, that are briefly mentioned by various characters.

This book is about love, lost love, enduring love, friendship, death, growing up years, bravery.  You will love Bird....the younger brother of Alma Singer.  He is still a child yet deals with such grown up issues.....you are going to want to give him a hug!!

The ending....oh my...the ending left me breathless.  I was just sitting there almost weeping when I read the last few pages.  It is beautiful.

I highly recommend this book (it is actually quite short...less than 260 pages) for those of you who enjoy high quality literary fiction.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14-adult, if the 14 year old is an advanced reader.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 14.  It was THAT good.


Dianna said...

WOW, Faith! This sounds so intriguing. I think I would actually enjoy reading it...and to find out the things you didn't want to spoil for us. :) Thank you for the excellent review!

Susanne said...

Hmmm, it does sound interesting! And thanks for not using spoilers!