Title: Great House
Author: Nicole Krauss
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Source: ARC from BEA
I’m importing this one from the publisher’s website. Sorry guys, I can’t do it myself.
For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father’s study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944.
Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.
I wanted to love this book. I wanted it to be everything The History of Love was to me. Instead, I was disappointed. There is no denying that Krauss is a master of language. There are beautiful passages and haunting ideas in Great House. But I was always left wanting. I would begin to read one of the stories. I would start to care about that story and the characters. And then that story would end and I would never be satisfied. I thought this would be remedied later but it never was. I’ve closed the book and I still want to know what happened. Perhaps it is too cerebral for me. Perhaps my expectations were skewed. But I do not GET this book (I can’t even figure out how one of the stories fits in – no mention of the desk as far as I could tell). I would love to discuss it with someone who did.
My favorite story was that of Arthur and Lotte. I think I would have loved a novel based on this.
I will read Nicole Krauss’ next book. Because The History of Love remains one of my favorite books. But I am more than ready to move on from Great House.