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Great House

by Nicole Krauss

A desk passing from owner to owner comes to represent what they have lost and how memory has shaped their identity and their life choices. This subtle and intelligent book gave me an insight into Jewish identity and, movingly, into what shapes us as individuals. Its complicated plot line and 8 part structure make it a rewarding but demanding read.

Extract

One drawer was slightly ajar, one of the nineteen drawers, some small and some large, whose odd number and strange array, I realized now, on the cusp of their being suddenly taken from me, had come to signify a kind of guiding if mysterious order in my life, an order that, when my work was going well, took an almost mystical quality. Nineteen drawers of varying size, some below the desktop and some above, whose mundane occupations ... hid a far more complex design, the blueprint of the mind formed over tens of thousands of days of thinking while staring at them, as if they held the conclusion to a stubborn sentence, the culminating phrase, the radical break from everything I had ever written that would at last lead to the book I had always wanted, and always failed, to write.

Parallels

The Search for Time Lost by Marcel Proust
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
 

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