Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Orange 2011: The great house (Krauss)

I was intrigued by, yet unsure whether or not I would enjoy reading The great house by Nicole Krauss. Intrigued, because I read this postby Dovegreyreader which really piqued my interest with its thoughts about desks, but unsure because I seemed to be one of a very small minority who had not been grabbed by her earlier book The history of love. And also unsure, because comments on my post about another Orange longlisted title, The memory of love, wich I had struggled through due to its literary, extremely descriptive style had suggested that this might be similar.

In the end, I liked this book. I liked the way that a single piece of furniture, a desk, connects seemingly four disparate people and their stories. And the way that this focus provides a vehicle for looking at people's personal lives. Nadia, a novelist living in New York, who comes to acquire the desk from a poet named Daniel. Aaron and his Dov in Israel suffering from communication problems. Arnold, in England, examining the life of his wife Lotte, who is also a novelist. Izzy and her brother Yoav and their father George who collects furniture.

The prose is lyrical at times and it drew me in rather than turning me off as the Memory of love did, but I didn't love it or enjoy it as much as some of the other Oranges that I've read this year. My favourite parts were the bits set in Oxford, because I knew the places being described.

Many thanks to Penguin for sending me this copy to read, in the best tradition of sharing, I'm passing it onto a colleague and then to my Mum, both of whom are excited to have a chance to read it.


  1. I'm pleased you liked this, because I loved the concept but I thought it might be too much like hard work. I shall order a copy from the library when I feel ready for a literary descriptive book!

  2. Interesting. I was also one of those who wasn't grabbed by the History of Love. I'm reading the Great House now and I thought it had a wonderful start. I'm now in the second part and getting a bit confused by the heavy description and the new characters. I do hope I'll end up liking this book.

  3. As you know, I thoroughly adored this book and suffered a mini reading slump post-reading as nothing compared. Just my type of book. I did wonder how you'd enjoy the Oxford sections; I enjoyed the London ones!

  4. I really enjoyed this too even though I wasn't bowled over by History of Love. But it's made me want to re-read it again. I found Great House to be beautifully written and touching.


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