How do you piece together love?
Mathematician Emily Kogan needs to finish her thesis, and her secretive family may be just the inspiration she’s looking for. When she returns to her family’s vacation lodge she decides to conduct research into the influence of personal relationships, using her family tree as an original social network. Tracing the spiderwebs of these connections, she learns far more than she bargained for.
In the 1930s, Harpo Marx joins his brothers at the Kogan’s Jewish resort in Canada. Unhappy after the death of his parents and uncertain in life after the latest Marx Brothers’ movie flopped at the cinemas, Harpo is looking for something or someone to save. Captivated by the mysterious Ayala Kogan and her two daughters, he is drawn deeply into the lives of the Kogan family and their tragic past.
Effortlessly weaving together these two storylines, Alexis von Konigslow draws the reader into an astonishing tale of ill-fated love, extraordinary courage and a daring transatlantic escape.
Emily crept to the kitchen, then up the stairs and through the hallway, then down again toward registration. There must be a vault somewhere with all the family documents. The registration area was too wide open. Nobody would leave birth certificates here. She moved on. The first visit to the lodge that she remembered had been when she was six years old, when she’d visited with her parents. She remembered dragging a towel down this narrow stairway. Corners had been difficult. But still. The lodge had been fun.
She stopped at the shut office door.
On that same trip, she'd visited her grandfather, Papa Moshe, in his office. Every time he'd moved toward her, she'd cried, and her father had had to pick her up. All the adults minus Moshe had laughed. Jonah had been there too, of course, a little boy hovering in the doorway. The door was locked. That boded well. The filing cabinets were locked too, from what she remembered. That was also a good sign, but hard to work around. She'd never figured out how to pick the locks. There might be other hiding places around, however.
"Better than clever, charming and elusive, The Capacity for Infinite Happiness is an utter delight unlike anything written before. Here is a story rich and complex told so simply that every page turns itself. The Marx brothers roam our Canadian wood. A beautiful mother prevaricates. Mysteries are hidden like heirlooms and two points of history meet. I couldn’t stop reading. The pleasure was effortless and intense." – Linda Spalding, author of The Purchase and The Paper Wife
“The Capacity for Infinite Happiness is about secrets, Harpo Marx, mathematics, failure, belonging, genocide and, above all, the indelible force of love. Alexis von Konigslow has written a linguistic calculus for human connectivity with this sweet, stunning, ingenious novel.” – Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of All the Broken Things and The Nettle Spinner