I don't read much literary fiction, and I could really appreciate the beautiful language and descriptions Krauss uses. Great House is beautifully written, there's no doubt about that. I don't think anyone would disagree with that fact. This is one book that I would have enjoyed being able to re-read certain phrases and descriptions. I found myself listening to the audio, and then thinking, "Wait. What did she just say? I need to hear that again." But I didn't rewind, since I was listening (and usually driving.)
However, if I were reading this book instead of listening, I don't think I would have finished it. The story was confusing and excruciatingly detailed. There are three different stories that are seemingly unrelated. Eventually we realize that these three people are connected by a huge antique desk with many drawers. Each person has an attachment to the desk. (I wondered why the book wasn't titled "Great Desk.")
They are interesting people. There's an author who has written all her novels at the desk. There's an antique dealer from Jerusalem who is looking for the desk. And, there's a lawyer in London whose wife has Alzheimer's and also used the desk to write. Every story goes into great detail, flashes backwards and forwards, and involves much flowery prose.
I was really looking forward to these relationships all making sense and coming together at the end, which they do -- sort of. The ending just fizzled for me. I needed more explanation and wrap up. After contemplating my feelings, I realized that Great House requires the reader to make connections and draw conclusions on their own. Krauss just doesn't spell everything out for the reader. And, I feel kind of stupid, because I didn't "get it" or, at least not all of it. But, like I said, I don't read a lot of these types of books, so maybe my brain needs some exercising. I probably would have made more sense of the book if I had been able to flip back and forth and do some re-reading.
Each perspective has a different narrator and they were all excellent. I would recommend the audio for that reason, but perhaps having a print copy as back up might be helpful.
As always, this is only my opinion, and I'm giving Great House a rather low rating. But, as I said at the very beginning, I realize this isn't my type of book. Great House was definitely out of my comfort zone, so keep that in mind, because this book has garnered much critical acclaim.
Published by W. W. Norton & Co, 2010 Audiobook by Recorded Books
Audiobook obtained from the library
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