Great House by Nicole Krauss

Hi there! So everyone on the East Coast (or at least New England) definitely felt the effects of Hurricane Irene this week. In our house, we lost power for two days. My family basically had nothing to do but read and play poker (by candlelight when it got too dark). And work; I still had to go to work the day after the storm.

Never again will I take for granted the ability to flush a toilet without fear, to cook when you want food, or to scroll Tumblr when you’re just too lazy for anything else. Even though I like the occasional power outage, four or five hours is basically my limit.

In the middle of this, praying the power would come back before Wednesday, Mother and I prepared for our planned trip to Boston. We would only stay one night and we would hit as many touristy destinations as possible. Meanwhile, I finished this book, and started and finished my next book during the six total hours we spent on a bus between Augusta and Boston. More on that in my next post.

I read Great House on recommendation of my trusty librarian, who, knowing that I absolutely loved my first Nicole Krauss novel, informed me that the library’s book club was reading this one for September, and encouraged me to come along. The meeting isn’t for three more weeks, so I’ve no idea what the general consensus on this book was, but… Well, I didn’t really like it. And partly to blame is the fact that I did not get it at all.

It’s almost a collection of stories- each chapter has a different narrator and it’s not readily apparent how any of them are connected. And when you look a bit deeper it’s still not apparent. Occasionally a character will make a brief appearance in two chapters and you’ll go, “Is that the same Daniel Varsky?” (I’m always suspicious of this.) The inside-flap-summary of the book talks about this ominous desk that you meet in the first chapter, and you expect it to be the recurring character, but even the desk only appears in two or three of the stories.

Another problem is that I wasn’t at all interested in half of the stories, but there was one that I found absolutely riveting. If this story had been extended to novel-length, I would have read it gladly. It was of two siblings, Yoav and Leah, who had been raised always moving around. Their father was very wealthy, an antique’s dealer, and he taught them to only trust in each other- as long as they were together, they would be fine. The result is two reclusive adults living in a giant house (possibly the “great house” of the title), with all of their necessities taken care of, rarely venturing outside. Then, someone encroaches on their world- the narrator of the story, a girl who falls in love with Yoav.

That chapter I found interesting. But for the most part, I was rather humdrum about everything. I didn’t particularly care for it. I’ll probably keep my head down at the meeting (if I go to the meeting, if I’m not working that night) as I clearly have nothing insightful to say at all.

Review for my next book coming up!

Published in: on September 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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