Amy Reads Books

Great House

Great House - Nicole Krauss I read The History of Love earlier this year, and was reasonably impressed by it; ultimately I didn't really think that the ending was satisfactory-that last twist just made me plain angry! But all the buzz about this novel meant that I picked it up as soon as it went paperback.The novel hinges around a rather creepy sounding desk, which we first find in the writer Nadia's apartment. This desk seems to take possession of all those whose hands it falls into; perhaps because all bar one are it's 'rightful' owners.Borrowing a trick from David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (at least that's where I first came across the technique), Krauss uses several narrative voices that are cut-off in the middle, and then resume again in the latter part of the novel. This therefore wasn't quite the interesting technique than it could be. However, the characters are all really interesting. Nadia (living in New York) herself suffers from some kind of mental illness and her tale is certainly one of a woman really suffering; then there's the story of a man in Israel who has recently lost his wife and is addressing his estranged son; another man in London who has just lost his wife, Lotte, and has discovered her long-kept secret and finally Isabel, a young woman who falls in love with Yoav Weisz, whose father is a major antiques dealer.The novel deals with loss and pain in a gentle way, and is beautifully written. Krauss manages to get into the heads of characters of all ages, a section I find most heartbreaking was the 'True Kindness' section, with the man addressing his son-the painful reveal of their troubled relationship was fascinating. The novel also deals with literature; both reading and writing, and its impact on the reader or writer, which was equally interesting. There was something a lot more, gentle, about Great House (which is potentially a misleading title) than The History of Love, but it was equally careful in it's exploration of loss. Plus, there was no massive twist at the end, and Krauss succeeds in very carefully linking all the pieces together in a really neat way, I especially loved the way the 'True Kindness' and 'All Rise' sections came together-it was surprising but really clever.