Great House

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Title: Great House
Author: Nicole Krauss
Pages: 289
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Pub. Date: October 12, 2010

I'm sorry. I just didn't get this.
I was really looking forward to it because I loved The History of Love, and though I remember that being a somewhat difficult read that was rewarding in the end, this one was just too much. I did NOT like it.

Krauss tells four different stories that I suppose are to be tied together by this apparently magnificent, elusive desk of drawers. (Although I would like to own that desk, it really didn't have as much to do with the stories as I think it's been made out to be). I really just found a lot of this book pretentious. The first character is apparently talking to a judge. It's in second person (as is another of the four story lines) and she says "Your Honor". But you don't find out why until later and then it was anticlimactic. And I'm pretty sure I *got* it but I can't be 100% sure. And even though the rest of the connections were more obvious, they just meant nothing to me by the time I got to the end.

And can you say stream-of-consciousness?? The characters thoughts just went on and on and kept losing me. The sentences were long. There were no quotation marks separating dialogue. For a relatively short book (289 pages) the reading was tedious and felt like it was much longer. I felt early on that this wasn't the book for me but I pushed through with the thought that there had to be that big, impactful moment somewhere or maybe by the end, but I never saw it.

Of course, in the parts where Krauss's writing kept my attention, her wording was beautiful. And there were moments of insight that I found powerful enough; but it was difficult to appreciate it much because it was bogged down by so many other things. Those parts that I did understand, though, were extremely sad.

It disheartens me to say these things because though I've only read one of her other books, I really thought that one was fantastic. And hey, there are other readers out there who adored this book, and it was short listed for the National Book Award and is also currently short listed for the Indie Lit Awards.

But as for me... I feel a little upset at the hours I spent reading this one. =(


Zibilee said...

Oh, no! I am sad to hear this one was not very good because I have seen that it is up for a lot of accolades and a few others really loved it! It does sound as though it might not be for me, what with all the stream-of-consciousness and the lack of parenthesis though. Ok, this one is taken off my list now because I don't want to read it and then regret the time I spent with it, like you did!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Your honesty is refreshing. I read The History of Love for my book club last year and thought it was pretty good. I had my eye on this one, especially after it was nominated (because I always have grand hopes to read award winners). I never got to it. Your review makes me not want to rush. Thanks! I trust your opinion.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, I'm glad I read your review before getting this one...some of the things that bothered you would also bother me.

Dialogue with no quotation marks is a big problem for me, and the stream-of-consciousness thing...Not something I enjoy. Maybe in small amounts, but that's it.

Thanks for sharing....

Melissa M said...

I really enjoyed The History of Love too. But since I have limited reading time these days I'm going to stay away from this one!

Jenny said...

Heather: I hope you're not taking one you'd like off the list, but if you don't like those things then you might not like it.

Michelle: Yeah, I wouldn't hurry to read it. Or read the first 5-10 pages in the store because that'll give you a good idea how it's all written.

Laurel: I really feel that just adding in those quotation marks would have made a big difference, lol!

Melissa: Yeah, I would if you have limited time.

softdrink said...

Me, too! (With the ugh, and not getting.)

Jenny said...

Jill: I'm glad I'm not the only one! I sort of felt like it was wrong to feel that way, lol. You haven't reviewed it yet, right? I want to see what you say about it!

playing.librarian said...

I was this close to buying this book the other day. After reading your review, I think I might as well put a hold on to it until I have the time to experience it myself.

It's such a shame because I love The History of Love :(

Trish said...

Oh no! Well, I have History of Love on my shelf (just picked it up after everyone raved about it in the comments of my EC&IL post--apparently they're married??), so I hope I like that one better than you liked this one!

nomadreader (Carrie) said...

I read this one before History of Love, but I had many of the same issues. I actually really enjoyed the first part, and I loved her writing. It didn't work as a novel for me, and when I read History of Love last week (after everyone saying it was amazing and not to give up on Krauss), I was underwhelmed. To me, it had several of the disjointed issues. I love her writing, but I don't love her characters or story.

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