Great House

Nicole Krauss

Great House is from the author of The History of Love; incorporating the same disconnected threads of narrative and combining to forge connections between seemingly different lives.

Spanning the 20th century, Great House’s protagonists come together with a desk, which incor­porates many drawers and hidden secrets. It is at once foreboding, dark and ominous to some, but of incredible significance to others. In 1972, a woman receives a Chilean poet’s entire set of furniture after only one night of meeting. His desk becomes further ladened with significance after he is captured by Pinochet’s secret police and disappears entirely. Another discovers his wife’s lifelong secret in the desk, and one searches for the furniture after it was taken by the Nazis in 1944.

The interesting link between the inanimate object and the significance it holds for these lives is perfectly executed, and the novel’s mysteries are shrouded throughout – only drip-fed through the narrative. The desk becomes a metaphor for what is lost or taken from us and Great House explores permanence in a world of the temporary.

Sophie Gordon