Love, loss, and identity are the main themes of Krauss's novel. From the title of the novel, readers should easily conclude love to be the most predominant theme. Not only does the title of the novel suggest love, the title of the novel-within-the-novel carries the same theme. Leo's love for his Polish Alma is so great that he never forgets the he has promised to wait for her forever. He is as true to Alma as he would have been had they actually married. When he said he loved her, he meant it, and he does not allow anything to stand in his way of nurturing that love.
Leo's manuscript, which is titled The History of Love, is all about Alma and how he loves her. He writes it as he experienced her presence in Poland and when he was living through hell during their separation. Leo's expression of love is so deep that Zvi Litvinoff knows all he had to do to win the heart of his lover, Rosa, is to convince her that he has written the words contained in Leo's novel. Rosa commits herself to Zvi and helps him translate Leo's love story.
Alma Singer's adventures are also based on a deep love. Though her own heart is broken by the loss of her father, Alma's main focus is finding a second husband for her mother, Charlotte, who has been severely depressed since her father’s death. The search for a new husband for Charlotte is made more exciting for the mystery-loving Alma as she tries to discover the true identity of Jacob Marcus.
Much of the love in the novel is tragic. Leo never fully wins back Alma. Leo's second love, his son Isaac, dies before Leo is able to see him face to face and tell him that he is his real father. If Leo had not been so true to his love for Alma, he may have found a wife and would not have been so lonesome at the end of his life.
Alma Singer also experiences tragedy in the early death of her father from cancer. Another loss for Alma is due to her mother’s mourning. Charlotte’s deep...
(The entire section is 783 words.)