I really loved this book. My friend Garrett (who shares my major love for Thrice) had a quote from this book as his Facebook status one day and it IMMEDIATELY hooked my attention. I’ll just share that quote with you here:
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
Garrett was quick to point out that he only had half of the quote up, however, I immediately went on a search for this novel. Because, c’mon, who doesn’t respond to romance like that? I saw it at Inkwood one day, but being quite incapable of buying all of the books that I like I waited to get it from the library. And then I started reading one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read (and at the same time quite a confusing novel).
I have a little bit of a pet peeve about this novel: there are three narrators. Two first person narrators that are quite vivid and then one third person omniscient narrator telling the story of another character or quoting passages from the novel The History of Love between the other narrators’ sections. The reason I was annoyed with this was not only does it create some confusion whilst reading… I am working, albeit intermittently, on a story about a couple teenage boys and a road trip and a professor of mine fussed at me for having this same sort of set up (with the three narrators). Oh well. That’s all I’ll say about that, because I’ll quickly start sounding “uppity”.
Anyway, my favourite parts of The History of Love were the passages that were “quotes” from the fictional novel The History of Love that’s sort of the catalyst for the actual novel (yeah, it’s confusing). What makes them so cool is how Nicole through her fictional author expresses very normal, universal experiences in an unexpected way. Like this:
“If at large gatherings or parties, or around people with whom you feel distant, your hands sometimes hang awkwardly at the ends of your arms – if you find yourself at a loss for what do with them, overcome with sadness that comes when you recognize the foreignness of your own body – it’s because your hands remember a time when the division between mind and body, brain and heart, what’s inside and what’s outside, was so much less. ”
from The History of Love, The Age of Silence
The Age of Silence and The Age of Glass are probably two of the best things I’ve ever read. Especially when you imagine a curmudgeonly old man explaining his fear of first expressing love based upon the belief that his rear end is made of glass. He’s honest about the vulnerability of telling someone you love them and messing it up because of fear.
I really, really, really cannot say enough to convince you to read this novel. Especially because if you find one part sort of difficult to read, the other narrator will give you a bit of a break. And there’s an absolutely adorable little boy named Bird who breaks your heart with his sincerity and sweetness.
Let’s just talk for a moment about how Nicole Krauss is married to Jonathan Saffran Foer. And apparently some snarkers on the internet accuse them of writing novels that are too similar (for instance The History of Love and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). My best friend has read the latter and I can’t wait for her holiday break so that we can discuss the two novels together and come to our own conclusions.
The last thing I’m going to give you is the link to the goodreads quote page and I just implore you to go read it. They’re just fantastic quotes. And maybe you’ll pick it up and read it at some point.