BOOK REVIEW: Great House by Nicole Krauss

Great House by Nicole KraussGreat House
By Nicole Krauss
Completed July 7, 2011

“…Every Jewish soul is built around a house that burned in that fire, so vast that we can, each one of us, only recall the tiniest fragment: a pattern on the wall, a knot in the wood of a door, a memory of how light fell across the floor. But if every Jewish memory were put together, every last holy fragment joined up again as one, the House would be built again…” (page 279)

Great House isn’t about a house per se. Rather, it’s the story of  people with a deep and tormented history – who individually represent a sliver of their collective past, but together, form a congruous whole. In this story, a desk is the connecting theme – an assuming piece of furniture that began in the office of a Jewish man in Budapest and made its way around the world, touching and affecting the lives of many people.

In this story, we meet a writer who lives in New York, an antiques dealer and his family from Jerusalem, a retired prosecutor and his son from Israel and a British couple. With one exception, the desk spends time with each person – often carrying good luck but painful memories too. As the story progressed, you follow the journey of the desk and the people who sat at it. In time, you see the other connections between each one.

Nicole Krauss is a gifted storyteller who is not afraid to take her readers on a journey that can be complicated and arduous. Indeed, Great House is not the easiest book to read with its swirling storylines and flowery language. It requires concentration as you learn about these characters whose lives are separate but connected. Each story could stand alone, but when placed together, they evoke a deeper meaning.

Great House will probably be revered by fans of literary fiction. It would make a compelling book for discussion, especially if led by the right moderator. In the end, I am glad I took the time to read this book – and sure that I will be thinking about this story for a long time. (  )


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BermudaOnion
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 09:27:14

    I may have to save this one for a less busy time. It sure does sound good though.


  2. Vasilly
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 11:44:30

    Jill, your review is the first to talk about the need to concentrate when reading this book. I’ll keep Great House in mind when I need a deep read.


  3. Trackback: My Orange July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up « The Magic Lasso

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