Nicole Krauss's tragic-comic novel The History of Love (2005) has been called a book of love and loss, a mystery, and a great literary work. Through vaguely connected storylines, it follows the lives of an old man, Leopold Gursky, and a young girl, Alma Singer. The thing that ties their lives together is a novel that Leopold has penned called The History of Love. Krauss's novel and Leo's novel are intertwined creating a lively novel-within-a-novel text.
The novel begins with an introduction to Leopold, who has suffered two devastating, emotionally crippling personal loses that make him feel invisible. First, he has lost the only woman he ever loved. Then he watches his only son grow up and then die without ever knowing him. He stands on the street corner at times, wondering if anyone notices him. Gursky often does things to force other people's acknowledgement of his existence, such as spilling food on himself or dropping money all over the floor. He even volunteers to work as a nude model because he likes the feeling of being studied. Gursky is both a comic and a tragic figure.
Alma Singer has no such problem about being seen, but visibility does not matter to her one way or the other. What Alma wants is to find a man for her mother to love. At least, that is her motivating force in the beginning. Alma's father died several years ago and ever since then her mother seems to be perpetually sad. In the process of her search for a husband for her mother, Alma makes some interesting discoveries, including the woman for whom she was named. That woman is the only love that Leo Gursky ever had, the woman he writes about in his novel, The History of Love.
As the story unfolds, the two main characters move closer and closer to one another. At the end, they finally meet.