Friday, February 4, 2011


 I hope that I don't jinx the book by saying this, but I am LOVING Great House by Nicole Krauss so far.  The book was billed as the story of different people whose lives are tied together through their ownership of a certain desk over many years.  I expected it to be similar to People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, in which the lives of the various characters are unified through their ownership of a specific book.  I was even more convinced that Great House would be like People of the Book after reading that Nicole Krauss' husband, Jonathan Safran Foer, was working a version of a Haggadah, since the book that POTB featured was a very special Haggadah.

However, now that I am half way through Great House, it is reminding me of several books that I love, but not POTB.  The first chapter is about a woman living in New York and a man from Chile.  Without going into too much detail, it reminded me of The Tree of Red Stars by Tessa Bridal, which is set in South America, and in which several key characters "disappear" at the hands of a cruel and paranoid government. 

The chapters of Great House could each stand alone as short stories.  The second story/chapter, called "True Kindness" may be the best short story that I have ever read.  It shows with a simple, concise clarity the factions created in a family when one child meets a father's expectations, and the other, while successful in the world, does not.  This story made me think of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. 

The fourth story/chapter includes brother and sister characters that reminded me of those in The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  Additionally, the house in which they live is on the verge of becoming a crumbling British estate, so of course I am also reminded of the siblings in The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.  There's also the rumor of sibling incest, which makes me think of The Thirteenth Tale  by Diane Setterfield.  The image of a grand piano suspended from a high ceiling in place of a chandelier from this fourth story is stuck in my head and not likely to leave any time soon.

The second half of the book is promising to bring all of the story/chapters together, and I can't wait to read more.  I read over 100 pages today, and I almost want to slow down so that it lasts longer. 

Still Listening to:  The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

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