Great House

Great House

Book - 2010
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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.

Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?

Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Co., c2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393079982
Characteristics: 289 p. ; 25 cm.


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Dec 22, 2014

I haven't yet read Krauss's raved-about "The History of Love," but I hope it's better than this one. Krauss is a highly intelligent writer who knows a lot about structuring a narrative...but it takes more than that to make a good novel.

quagga Sep 28, 2013

A perfect book for discussion: challenging, beautiful, and rewarding of close examination.

brianreynolds May 23, 2013

To say Nicole Krauss' <i>Great House</i> was a disappointment is both an understatement and a surprise after my delight at discovering <i>The History of Love</i> by the same author. Both novels are structurally similar: a team of very disparate points of view tell their first person stories with unrelated motives, leaving the reader to invent the overall plot. What worked so wonderfully well in her earlier novel left me scratching my head with her most recent work. Nadia's rants about her writer's block and her failed relationships failed to interest, let alone move, me. Seriously? The F-word is furniture? Once broken down and reassembled, all of those words, all of that angst was about a desk? The best I could muster for the dysfunctional Wurtz family was pity. On the other hand the rant of Arthur Burg is moving at times and, separate from the rest, would at least offer a reminiscence of Leo Gursky. But this purports to be a novel: a story of losers who have lost something. Well, all I can honestly say is: some losers are more likeable than others.

sharonb122 Mar 04, 2013

Perhaps I have forgotten most of my literary education from school, because I did not appreciate this book by an award winning author. I only read somewhat past half way. Most of the characters were reclusive. It was difficult to figure out the timetable and travel of the desk. I was curious about why the book was titled "Great House" when it was about a desk--that was probably revealed at the end--ha--so also probably the secred of the locked dest drawer.

May 01, 2012

Stories - a woman author in New York, a couple in London, a family in Jerusalem - all connected by a desk, which is a symbol of loss. Underlying Holocaust theme. At times, difficult to maintain the relationship amongst the narratives. An interesting writer.

Sep 21, 2011

Beautiful phrasing that rings true. Wonderful writing.

Jul 08, 2011

Krauss is one of the finest prose writers we have writing today, but this book's sadness and lack of plot just lost me half way through. 'The History of Love' was so much better! Read it if you haven't. Read this if you are feeling very literary!

Apr 29, 2011

A dark, sombre read. Beautifully written and surprisingly absorbing.

stewaroby Apr 19, 2011

Nicole Krauss hit the big-time with The history of love and this book deserves to sell as well. The book begins in 1972 with the break-up of a relationship and an American writer living in an empty apartment. She takes temporary possession of some furniture belonging to a Chilean poet, furniture that includes a desk that she then works at for the next 25 years. When the poet's daughter appears asking for the desk back, her life spins out of control. In London and Jerusalem other characters gain and lose people and things. The themes of possession, inheritance, change and loss are big ones but they are handled with assurance and grace.

debwalker Oct 19, 2010

The author of The History of Love continues her exploration of Jewishness, loneliness, and the threads connecting people across generations, weaving
together fragments of four novellas all linked to a massive old desk of mysterious provenance.

From the Globe and Mail Monday October 18: Nicole Krauss finds the novel a good fit

"Nicole Krauss's third novel, Great House, is a nominee for this year's National Book Award in the United States. But it has already clobbered all comers in the all-important review sweepstakes, eliciting a virtual orgy of approval among early readers."


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debwalker Oct 19, 2010

From the Globe & Mail Oct 18 2010: Nicole Krauss finds the novel a good fit [Author Interview]

"There is nothing else in life, no other art really, that allows us something that literature does, which is to step in this most intense way into the path, into the river of another's life, to embody another person's inner life. It's a kind of connectedness that is so deep and allows for a kind of empathy and the development of compassion that again doesn't happen so easily elsewhere."


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