Four stories linked by a desk. Story one revolves around a reclusive American novelist who tells her story, without explanation until the very end, to “your honor.” She writes at the desk which she inherited from a young Chilean poet. The second story is a Jewish father in Israel addressing his youngest son, now an adult, with whom he’s never had a good relationship. The third story is an elderly husband recounting his life with his elderly, semi-famous writer wife who as a teenager escaped Nazi Germany, forced to leave her family behind to unknown, terrible fates. The final story is about a brother and sister living in London and their father, an antiques dealer who has spent their entire lives slowly reconstructing his father’s study, destroyed by the Nazis in Budapest. This story is told by the son’s girlfriend and later by the father.
I enjoyed Krauss’s other book, The History of Love. Krauss is a wonderful writer, but at least for me, these stories didn’t work to create a book. I had a hard time connecting it all and knowing what time period I was reading about. And in the end, when a reader hopes to have everything figured out, I still felt a little confused and unsure of exactly what happened — or if I enjoyed reading it at all.
Rated: High. There are about two dozen swear words, a quarter of them strong. There are also some mild sexual references, though not a lot and not horribly descriptive (just more information that I would like to know).