Funnily enough, I was listening to Nicole Krauss's interview on Bookworm the other day for History of Love, and she made an analogy of a novel to a house. She said a poem was like a perfect room, while a novel was like an imperfect house that you could inhabit. I wondered if she kept thinking of a novel as a house, and if, in fact, Great House was also referring to that conception of what novels can be, in some sort of meta way.
I have to be honest -- I had high hopes for this novel, because I really love Krauss and her thoughts and her general aura. History of Love meant a lot to me when I read it, so I was excited by Great House. Well, while I enjoyed the book, I wouldn't say I loved it. I think the second half was more engaging than the first, plot and tension wise, and I do think the book has a lot of wonderful ideas and poignant moments, but it definitely didnt move the way History of Love did. There was something genuine about how she inhabited the characters in that book, whereas here, I didn't always feel the characters were as distinct in their voices. This isn't to say I didn't find her language beautiful or their characters interesting, but there was something that was a bit oblique in the telling that made this book beautiful and interesting to read, but on a different level than I expected. By the end I was fully engaged, but the stories didn't culminate in a way I hoped they would. If anything, this novel was more like interconnected stories, but unlike McCann's Let The Great World Spin, it wasn't a circular connection, but a linear one, which ultimately made it a lot less satisfying.
Still though, Krauss is exploring some interesting ideas about loss, and I liked it, but didn't love it.