Customer Reviews for

Great House

Average Rating 3
( 197 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(49)

4 Star

(32)

3 Star

(45)

2 Star

(37)

1 Star

(34)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Extraordinary, illustive book!

Frankly speaking, I found this book completely confusing in structure. The author does way too much skipping around in a disjointed manner..leaving the reader wondering who on earth she's talking about! It spoiled the reading experience for me! 'though I did find many...
Frankly speaking, I found this book completely confusing in structure. The author does way too much skipping around in a disjointed manner..leaving the reader wondering who on earth she's talking about! It spoiled the reading experience for me! 'though I did find many redeeming points of interest and captivating characters midst the chaos.

Ms Krauss had some moments of beautiful writing and clarity throughout her work. Her original concept of a desk that was a "house" unto itself and that linked several people and families in their writing and angst, was a "great" one. It just was so scattered in presentation that it missed being a fantastic novel. I kept trying to find another, personal connection between all of the characters, and thought I had, only to wonder about that at the end. It felt as if I should re-read the novel before I would really get that full connection and understanding of the characters before I could claim complete understanding of the novel. I didn't want to reread it!

I'm very well-read, and I'm intelligent enough to know when a book doesn't quite hit the mark. Sadly, although the critics have touted "Great House" for its brilliance and esoteric singularity, I found it difficult and exasperating to read.

I also became mind-boggled and frustrated by the author's switching from ordinary prose and descriptive writing to a sort of James Joyceian stream-of-consiousness at a couple of points. Again, it was irritating and disrupted the reader's train of thought.

All in all, I would find it difficult to recommend this book to my friends or anyone. I gave it 4-stars only because when she hits it right, as I've said, Ms Krauss writes beautifully and with great heart, and gives life to her characters.

posted by Humbee on January 5, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Please do not waste your time with this!!!

I read this being thoroughly confused the whole way. Too many short stories that never connect trying to be one great big book. Most of the intertwining lives within this novel are never solved. You will not find any resolve, or satisfation at the end of this paperweigh...
I read this being thoroughly confused the whole way. Too many short stories that never connect trying to be one great big book. Most of the intertwining lives within this novel are never solved. You will not find any resolve, or satisfation at the end of this paperweight. I am sorry I wasted my money and time that I can never get back, on this GREAT big waste of time.

posted by moonmatrix on January 26, 2011

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Extraordinary, illustive book!

    Frankly speaking, I found this book completely confusing in structure. The author does way too much skipping around in a disjointed manner..leaving the reader wondering who on earth she's talking about! It spoiled the reading experience for me! 'though I did find many redeeming points of interest and captivating characters midst the chaos.

    Ms Krauss had some moments of beautiful writing and clarity throughout her work. Her original concept of a desk that was a "house" unto itself and that linked several people and families in their writing and angst, was a "great" one. It just was so scattered in presentation that it missed being a fantastic novel. I kept trying to find another, personal connection between all of the characters, and thought I had, only to wonder about that at the end. It felt as if I should re-read the novel before I would really get that full connection and understanding of the characters before I could claim complete understanding of the novel. I didn't want to reread it!

    I'm very well-read, and I'm intelligent enough to know when a book doesn't quite hit the mark. Sadly, although the critics have touted "Great House" for its brilliance and esoteric singularity, I found it difficult and exasperating to read.

    I also became mind-boggled and frustrated by the author's switching from ordinary prose and descriptive writing to a sort of James Joyceian stream-of-consiousness at a couple of points. Again, it was irritating and disrupted the reader's train of thought.

    All in all, I would find it difficult to recommend this book to my friends or anyone. I gave it 4-stars only because when she hits it right, as I've said, Ms Krauss writes beautifully and with great heart, and gives life to her characters.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 26, 2011

    Please do not waste your time with this!!!

    I read this being thoroughly confused the whole way. Too many short stories that never connect trying to be one great big book. Most of the intertwining lives within this novel are never solved. You will not find any resolve, or satisfation at the end of this paperweight. I am sorry I wasted my money and time that I can never get back, on this GREAT big waste of time.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 26, 2010

    collection of short stories

    poetic emotional lovely chilling.... but less of a story more of a collection of unrelated peices. i kept waiting for it to tie together.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    With its winding, spinning narrative, Great House manages to pull you in, only to be pushed away with a firm hand later.

    I have mixed feelings about Great House. The story centers around a desk as it travels from owner to owner. To some, the desk is just a mere vessel to write letters at. To others, it is a more important piece, vital to the creative writing process. This wooden desk is quite unique, in that it contains 19 drawers which allow the owner to secret away little bits of life. Large and imposing, this desk seems to loom over its owners when they are in possession of it, and remind them of their past lives when it's gone. Krauss weaves in and out of different narratives going back and forth in time. The structure of the novel is quite complex and takes some time to get used to. It took many passes at reading the novel for me to get a feel for her style. I find this to be the case with most Literary Fiction, but with Great House, the extra effort didn't reward me in the way that I expected it would. The story fell flat and the some of the characters lacked depth. The one storyline that I was very taken with, is the one where Lotte's husband finds out that his wife has secrets. I was completely absorbed by that story, but with the weaving narrative, once you find yourself absorbed, you are then suddenly pushed back into a different narrative. This gave the novel a disjointed feeling. Not to say that the transitions weren't smooth, they were, but it's like watching a riveting TV show while your children are yapping incessantly at you. You simply want to go back to the story. not be pulled away from it and forced to look elsewhere. After re-reading the last third of the novel three times, I did experience the sense of loss that I felt the author was trying to convey. The desk becomes a Jewish symbol of survival and serves as a reminder of love and loss. The last third of the book is very powerful and thought-provoking but the novel as a whole felt a bit jagged around the edges. I didn't feel that the stories were fully explored and it left me with an empty, unfinished feeling. I read this for the 2010 Indie Lit Awards and although I do have some issues with how it was pieced together, I appreciate the complexity of the novel itself.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    "What is a Jew without Jerusalem?"

    The common thread woven through Great House is a commanding, wooden desk with nineteen drawers of different sizes, possessed by multiple owners, over decades. The desk becomes a Jewish symbol for loss, survival, and, ultimately, spiritual reconstruction. Each section in the book is a story within a story, at times confusing, but subsequently, Great House is a triumph!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Difficult

    I found this a difficult read. Someday I may re-read it to see if I understand it any better.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    A pretty good book

    A good book, I found it hard to follow at first, but I stayed with it, and finished reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I loved the way this book was written

    I loved the way this book was written. It is a glimpse of the lives of several people whose lives have been changed by owning or encountering someone who owned the desk. This is not an uplifting book but I thought the way Nicole Krauss put the words together was beautiful. As some have said in their reviews, it is not a story where everything comes together at the end and is wrapped up with a pretty little bow. I am glad that it wasn't I am always disappointed when authors do that.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    Badly Disappointed

    I read so many good things about this book; I really wanted to like it. In the end, I had to force myself to finish it. There are many authors who use what I refer to as "the back and forth" method of telling a story. That is, going back and forth between the past and present to tell a story. Kate Morton is an excellent example of this. This story was similar except that to me it seemed very disjointed. In fact, it wasn't until some time after I'd finished the book that I figured out the interrelationship of the stories. I really had to work at this to make all the pieces fall into place. Some of the back stories seemed to be boring and not necessarily supportive of the main theme. And, some parts just seemed down right incredulous. A guy shows up at your door that you don't know, and after several more visits, you calmly hand over your favorite desk? Please! i was expecting a lot from this book, and I ended up with very little.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2011

    Incredible prose

    This book is incredibly written. I am an avid but very unemotional reader, and I got pretty emotional at several points. The characters all reveal great psychological truths about people and relationships.

    Several reviews express disappointment in the lack of a coherent story. This is true, but it is not the intention of the book to be a traditional novel with a linear plot. Get over it, because this book is awesome as soon as you do.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Full of surprises

    I'm still trying to figure out which one of the stories was created by the narrator to get out of her writer's block! I'm writing this review a couple of years after reading the book, and it continues to haunt and enchant me. --catwak

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This novel follows a similar point of view format that History o

    This novel follows a similar point of view format that History of Love did. It also goes to much darker places.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    Terrible Book

    This book was written with so many different character lives that did not contect, it was impossible to follow. At the end I still could not figure out the relationship between all of them. All I know is that the desk survived. I would not recommend this book at all. Terribly dissapointed.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    I don't even know what this book was about

    If I had bought the print version, I would have thrown it across the room. This is a sad, brooding, rambling kind of book. Took a long time to get to the point, to the meaning of "great house." The characters were contrived and weird, and the connections among them were vague. Bored me to tears. Didn't like it at all.

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    Entertaining, Well-written, Thought Provoking

    This delicious novel which centers upon a mysterious desk and the people who have had possession of it over the years is a surprisingly delightful read. The ribbon that keeps these characters attached, that six degrees of separation, is a piece of furniture. It isn't often a book has an inanimate object as the central character. But Nicole Krauss makes that desk a STAR!

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    Disappointing

    Although the sample I had downloaded piqued my interest, when I read the whole book I found it lacking.
    The author has excellent character and scene descriptions, but the book seemed more like a group of inter-related short stories rather than a cohesive novel. I am not a fan of short story/novel combinations but nothing in the sample gave me an idea that this would be the case.
    Some of the relationships between the stories were drawn together neatly at the end but others were just left hanging.
    I got the distinct impression that the author had run out of time and had to complete the book before it was a finished work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2011

    A tough read on many fronts.

    From the beginning one needs to realize this is a group of shorts. Don't try to read a novel into this.

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  • Posted January 28, 2011

    Excellent Read

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    If you are a fan of Krauss' writing, this is a must read

    Loved it!! Definitely a permeant fixture in my library. Love this author and her writing style. This was a perfect collection of short stories. Must read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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