Book Reviews: Great House

Monday, October 4, 2010

Great House
by Nicole Krauss

Krauss' latest book is split into four separate points-of-view and each of these has two sections in which to tell their story.

First there is All Rise, where a lonely author tells the story of a huge desk she inherited from a Chilean poet. She's spent her whole life choosing a life of work over human connections and now she feels lost.

True Kindness delves into the delicate relationship between estranged parents and their kids. A father, newly widowed, can't understand his introverted, sensitive son and struggles to come to terms with their complicated past.

In Swimming Holes, we read of a husband who loves his wife, even though she keeps him at arm's length. He's an outsider who understands little of his wife's past and because of that we discover things with about her along with him.

The final section, Lies Told By Children introduces us to Isabel, who tells us of her lover Yoav and his sister Leah who live a strange, secluded life under the thumb of their controlling father.

All of the stories are loosely connected by a mammoth desk with many drawers and a past as complicated as its many owners'.

I didn't feel as investing in these character as I did with The History of Love and I don't think the story is as well-constructed. But in the end it didn't really matter. I loved it, because I love her writing. She manages to convey a mood or mental state in such a deeply poetic way that's intoxicating.

I can sink into Krauss' writing like a warm bath, it's all-encompassing. When I'm reading something by her I sometimes forget the plot for a minute and get carried away by the magic of her words. Almost every line makes me want to reach for a highlighter. I love dipping into each of the characters' lives and seeing the world through their eyes and I know I'm going to continue reading everything she writes.

"Our kiss was anticlimactic. It wasn't that the kiss was bad, but it was just a note of punctuation in our long conversation."

"Sometimes politeness us all that stands between oneself and madness."


Jenners said...

A book that reads like slipping into a warm bath? This is a book I must read!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

You know, The History of Love was one of those books that had a great impact when I finished them, but now, about 6 years later, I only remember one detail: the male-lead saying how the female-lead had slender wrists.


Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

It's so funny how some details stick out in our minds and others fade away.