Great House (Krauss) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
An elegiac novel...achieved through exquisitely chosen sensory details that reverberate with emotional intensity. Here [Krauss] gives us her tragic vision pure. It is a high-wire performance, only the wire has been replaced by an exposed nerve, and you hold your breath, and she does not fall.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein - New York Times Book Review

To me the most resonant sections of Nicole Krauss' widely anticipated third novel, Great House, are those narrated by Aaron, an aging Israeli who still hasn't figured out how to relate to one of his adult sons.... The two chapters he narrates pulse with his hot-blooded heartbeat; the drama of his family rises to the level of the epic because he makes it so. As for the rest of the novel, it's well done enough, nicely written and full of cogent insights, but compared with Aaron, it feels as if it's taking place behind a sheet of glass.
David L. Ulin - Los Angeles Times

Nicole Krauss' latest novel, Great House, is precisely the kind of work of art for which the phrase "oddly compelling" was invented. Like her celebrated best-seller, The History of Love, this new novel contemplates love, loss and the oppressive weight of memory on those left behind. The plot here, though, is even murkier than it was in The History of Love.... I'm not sure what it all adds up to; I'm not even sure that Great House has one cohesive theme. But I'm willing to tolerate this confusion because of the isolated moments of psychological illumination that Krauss provides through her startling language. Reading Great House is like being lost in a pitch black room (an image that Krauss gives us more than once here) and then suddenly having a dusty corner of that room brilliantly lit up and exposed.
Maurreen Corrigan - National Public Radio

The most heartbreaking part of Great House is having to finish it.... As the mysteries of this beautifully written novel come spooling out, you’ll marvel at how profoundly one brilliantly crafted extended metaphor involving a mute wooden artifact can remind us what it means to be alive.

This stunning work showcases Krauss's consistent talent. The novel consists of four stories divided among eight chapters, all touching on themes of loss and recovery, and anchored to a massive writing desk that resurfaces among numerous households, much to the bewilderment and existential tension of those in its orbit, among them a lonely American novelist clinging to the memory of a poet who has mysteriously vanished in Chile, an old man in Israel facing the imminent death of his wife of 51 years, and an esteemed antiques dealer tracking down the things stolen from his father by the Nazis. Much like in Krauss's The History of Love, the sharply etched characters seem at first arbitrarily linked across time and space, but Krauss pulls together the disparate elements, settings, characters, and fragile connective tissue to form a formidable and haunting mosaic of loss and profound sorrow.
Publishers Weekly

In this latest from Krauss (The History of Love), a huge old desk with many drawers becomes the symbol of love and loss for a host of characters from different countries and time periods. There is the New York woman who has written all her novels at the desk, which she was keeping for a Chilean poet who has since disappeared. Then there are the poet's daughter, who comes back years later to claim the desk; the antiques dealer who tracks down meaningful items from people's pasts; the brother and sister who live isolated in a Jerusalem home filled with other people's furniture; the elderly couple in England who live with the desk and a horrible secret; and the dictatorial father who desperately tries to understand his creative son. Verdict: While each character's story is engrossing, the connection among them is at times impossible to follow. Still, Krauss deals with heavyweight themes—the Holocaust, the different ways people cope with suffering, the special cruelty of fathers, the costs of creativity—with meditative, insightful prose that makes for an intense and memorable reading experience. —Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Library Journal

(Starred review.) Krauss’ masterful rendition of character is breathtaking, compelling.... This tour de force of fiction writing will deeply satisfy fans of the author’s first two books and bring her legions more. —Ellen Loughran

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