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Great House by Nicole Krauss

Great House (2010)

by Nicole Krauss

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1,6461186,577 (3.48)1 / 300

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English (113)  Spanish (3)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
Would give this three starts for spectacular writing and 1/2 for story. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I adored The History of Love, but this one didn't work for me. Something about the writing--I thought all of the voices sounded similar, and I could never get into the characters. And the resolution was anticlimactic. Not a winner, in my opinion. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
So for most of the book I was planning to give this no less than 5 stars. Each chapter in this book is more or less a story on its own right, and everytime I started a new one I felt immediately drawn in. The language was so evocative; it was like this book was meant for me. I can't even explain how much I was affected by it.

Then something happened that I couldn't help but feel bad about.... and it kinda dampened my excitement a little. Overall, I kept waiting for a deeper connection between the stories that never really came to pass.... So I don't know if I was exactly disappointed, but I sure felt just a little underwhelmed.

Still, I think the connection is not the point after all. And the stories, all of them, were brilliant in a way that I can't possibly begin to articulate. I stillneed to think about this more, to let the effect seep in....

Not the most definite review, but there you go. This is still without doubt one of the best books I've read. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
It was sadly very bad. I had hope a it would be a great version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. ( )
  tpixie | Apr 3, 2018 |
As much as I liked a lot about this book, it just didn’t cohere in a way that I found satisfying. Books about how a single object or location tie people and situations together can be fascinating. Unseen connections are revealed to our joy and amazement. There was some of that here, but not enough. Plus I found a few of the narratives just plain baffling. Why was Nadia addressing a judge? What was with the angry old man and his disaffected son Dov? I just couldn’t see the connection there. I found that the way Weitz treats Leah reminded me of the way the father treats the daughter in Ng’s Everything I Never Told you. The expectation of a life from out of magazines and movies. Only seeing the dream, never the daughter. I wish their relationship had been better explained; why did Leah lock up the desk and tease her father with it? Like I said, not quite satisfying. The writing though, is pretty stellar -

“It was as if the walls of his apartment were suddenly carpeted like the walls of a movie theater to keep the sound from getting out, or other sounds from getting in and inside that tank, Your Honor, in what light there was, we were both the audience and the picture.” p 11

“I don’t know what that’s supposed to tell you; nothing, except that we take comfort in the symmetries we find in life because they suggest a design where there is none.” p 82

And this amazing rush of expression - the desperation is palpable -

“Suddenly I wanted to cry. Out of frustration and exhaustion and despair of ever really coming close to the center, the always-moving center of the woman I loved. I sat at the table staring into the greasy food and waited for the tears to come, even wishing them to come, so that I might unburden myself of something, because as things stood I felt so heavy and tired that I couldn't see any way to move. But they didn’t come, and so I continued to sit there hour after hour watching the unrelenting rain slosh against the glass, thinking of our life together, Lotte’s and mine, how everything in it was designed to give a sense of permanence, the chair against the wall that was there when we went to sleep and there again when we awoke, the little habits that quoted from the day before and predicted the day to come, though in truth it was all just an illusion, just as solid matter is an illusion, just as our bodies are an illusion, pretending to be one thing when really they are millions upon millions of atoms coming and going, some arriving while others are leaving us forever, as if each of us were only a great train station, only not even that since at least in a train station the stones and the tracks and the glass roof stay still while everything else rushes through it, no, it was worse than that, more like a giant empty field where every day a circus erected and dismantled itself, the whole thing from top to bottom, but never the same circus, so what hope did we really have of ever making sense of ourselves, let alone one another?” p 95

“...But once I knew Yoav and Leah better I began to think of their talent, if one can call it that, as something borrowed from ghosts.” p 139

It is interesting how the presence of the desk changes people and its absence seems to unhinge them. The whole presentation is a bit odd and disconnected, but each of the narratives is interesting and told in a distinct voice; something hard to pull off. Do read it, but don’t expect all the threads to come together neatly. ( )
  Bookmarque | Feb 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
Tegelijk zijn het dergelijke zwaar aangezette scènes die de roman doen overhellen naar kitsch. Vooral omdat Krauss je niet de kans geeft om er zelf conclusies uit te trekken. Ligt het sentiment er al vrij dik bovenop, ze smeert er nog een laag bij door steeds te spreken van ‘tremendous guilt’ en ‘crushing sadness’. Er wordt hier zo veel verteld over gevoelens dat er weinig daadwerkelijk te voelen valt.
added by SimoneA | editNRC, Yra van Dijk (Nov 3, 2010)
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For Sasha and Cy
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Talk to him.
There are times when the kindness of strangers only makes matters worse because one realizes how badly one is in need of kindness and that the only source is a stranger.
It was one of those winter nights in England when the darkness that falls at three makes nine feel like midnight, reminding one of how far north one has staked one's life.
We stood in the hall of the house that had once been all of our house, a house that had been filled with life, every last room of it brimming with laughter, arguments, tears, dust, the smell of food, pain, desire, anger, and silence, too, the tightly coiled silence of people pressed up against each other in what is called a family.
As if to touch, ritually, one last time, every enduring pocket of pain. No, the powerful emotions of youth don’t mellow with time. One gets a grip on them, cracks a whip, forces them down. You build your defenses. Insist on order. The strength of feeling doesn’t lessen, it is simply contained.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393079988, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010: In each of the short stories that nest like rooms in Nicole Krauss's Great House looms a tremendous desk. It may have belonged to Federico García Lorca, the great poet and dramatist who was one of thousands executed by Fascists in 1936, when the Spanish Civil War began. We know that the desk stood in Weisz's father's study in Budapest on a night in 1944, when the first stone shattered their window. After the war, Weisz hunts furniture looted from Jewish homes by the Nazis. He scours the world for the fragments to reassemble that study's every element, but the desk eludes him, and he and his children live at the edges of its absence. Meanwhile, it spends a few decades in an attic in England, where a woman exhumes the memories she can't speak except through violent stories. She gives the desk to the young Chilean-Jewish poet Daniel Varsky, who takes it to New York and passes it on (before he returns to Chile and disappears under Pinochet) to Nadia, who writes seven novels on it before Varsky's daughter calls to claim it. Crossing decades and continents, the stories of Great House narrate feeling more than fact. Krauss's characters inhabit "a state of perpetual regret and longing for a place we only know existed because we remember a keyhole, a tile, the way the threshold was worn under an open door," and a desk whose multitude of drawers becomes a mausoleum of memory. --Mari Malcolm

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:13 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Connected solely by a desk of enormous dimension and many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or give it away, three people--a lonely American novelist clinging to the memory of a poet who has mysteriously vanished in Chile, an old man in Israel facing the imminent death of his wife of 51 years, and an esteemed antiques dealer tracking down the things stolen from his father by the Nazis--struggle to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.… (more)

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Average: (3.48)
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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393079988, 0393340643

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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