Housekeeping: A Novel
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Product Description

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Tragedy Leads Two Children to Make Difficult Life Choices
    This is my second reading of this amazing and powerful book. It is not often that I read a book more than once.

    This novel is about the tragedy that befalls two siblings after their mother's suicide leaves them to live with relatives. Ultimately, they arrive at their aunt's house. Their aunt has been a vagabond, riding trains and living a box-car life. She makes an effort to take care of her two charges but she is not adept at living a mainstream existence. She hoards newpapers, cans and memories. She lives barely on the fringe of what is called 'normal'.

    The two sisters struggle to adapt to her lifestyle and become alienated from each other as one chooses to live a life like their aunt's and the other one settles down to live a lifestyle more acceptable to society.

    This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read and one of my favorite books....more info
  • A book best appreciated but not so much enjoyed
    Marilynne Robinson is an exquisite writer, there's no denying it. However, as beautiful as her writing is, it doesn't translate (to me) to an enjoyable story, and I as a reader need more than pretty words to keep me turning pages. As other reviewers mention, not remotely a plot-driven novel. Nothing wrong with that, just not for everyone. It becomes sort of a chore to read after a while.

    I'd say the same thing about Gilead....more info
  • "So a diaspora threatened always."
    "Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson has increasingly turned up on "best of" lists since its quiet debut in 1980 as the author's first novel. It makes original, artful use of the conventions of contemporary literary fiction, turning on concept and well crafted prose. It is irresistible to call it a "meditation" on the binary themes of permanence/transience, communication/silence, memory/perdition and relationships/disconnections. All of that sounds rather dull, doesn't it? And yet, this book reads like quicksilver and there is something of a psychological suspenser about it, and a whiff of something that brings Shirley Jackson to mind.

    This is a story told in the first person by a young girl named Ruth who with her sister Lucille is abandoned successively, first by their father, then by their mother's suicide, then by their widowed grandmother's death, and then by the grandmother's fusty sisters-in-law. It is the latter who offer the comic note in the story, who rush to give up the girls' care to their mother's odd drifter of a younger sister who happens to come home at this moment to the house in which she grew up. The questions arise: Does she have the parenting skills the girls need? Can she keep a decent house for them? Can she stay put? Is she right in the head? What affect will she have on them?

    This takes place in the remote town of Fingerbone, Idaho, set on the lake of the same name, a place that is bound by ice in winter, then undermined by floods and mud as spring breaks. Robinson seamlessly melds the externalities of the setting and action with the abstract themes she extracts from them. The voice she gives Ruth is lyrical and fluent with a tension to it that sweeps the narrative forward.
    ...more info
  • Which predominates: overwriting or brilliance? (3.5 *s)
    This is a book that is flooded with descriptions, imagery, and contemplation that can, from sentence to sentence, seem odd, difficult, and overwritten and then insightful, lyrical, and poetic. The central character is Sylvie, a thirty-something female, who has returned to Fingerbone, an obscure western town set on a large lake, to care for her two nieces who have lost both their grandmother and mother. The story is told from the standpoint of Ruthie, one of the girls.

    A heavy cloud hands over the entire book as death, impermanence, the power of water and the wind, cold weather, forests, mud, deprivation, and the like are constants in this rather gloomy story. It is a formidable environment that Sylvie and Ruthie, largely unsuccessfully, attempt to navigate, including social expectations and illusions. Despite an unspecified life of trouble, there is a strength and resoluteness to Sylvie that resonates.

    The plot is minimal. The characters serve as a means for the author to develop her themes. The book is difficult and tedious with digressions interlaced throughout, not to mention getting past the author's obscure word choices, yet there is brilliance on most every page.
    ...more info
  • A beautiful, haunting book
    Marilynne Robinson's masterfully told story of an atypical "housekeeping" arrangement is strange, funny, sad, lyrical, and inspiring. It is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. I found myself savoring the words, reading aloud to myself. This is a wonderful book....more info
  • Great Book Club Pick - Resources Available!
    This is a natural pick for a book club discussion group. There are additional resources available for your book club through the National Endowment for the Arts "THE BIG READ" program. In addition to the book offered here at Amazon, there is a Compact Disc offered by the National Endowment for the Arts which has discussion of the book and interviews with Marilynne Robinson, the author. These additional resources make this book an excellent pick for your book club. The National Endowment for the Arts also offers a Teacher's Guide and a Reader's Guide in addition to the Compact Disc. Access those resources at: [...]...more info
  • Nothing happens
    I read about half the book and nothing happened. Robinson's writing is intense and lyrical but also boring. It just went on and on and on and on...

    This is an extremely slow moving book, I was waiting for the plot to develop but it seemed like much of the book was the backstory. Don't waste your time. ...more info
  • A Revenant Primer
    *SPOILERS THROUGHOUT*
    Housekeeping is a marvelous little ghost story, or more exactly, the story of how our narrator, Ruthie Stone, becomes a little ghost. Robinson goes about making Ruthie a ghost in three ways: Isolation, habit, and fear of the "other world".

    Isolation. Robinson throws our narrator, Ruthie, into geographically isolated Fingerbone on the far side of a large lake---perhaps on the shore of Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille which also is crossed by a long railroad bridge. Robinson then ruthlessly purges Ruthie's immediate family by either abandonment (father, Lily and Nona) or death (grandmother, mother). Ruthie compounds her own isolation when she states, "We had never really had any use for friends ...." Astonishing---having no use for friends and Robinson's use of the extra `had'. Robinson's last sadistic separation comes when her sister, Lucille, abandons Ruthie for the "other world" and leaves Ruthie alone in the house with crazyass Aunt Sylvie.

    Habit. When Sylvie arrives she is already a ghost and she becomes Ruthie's mentor, teaching her how to get along without work, purpose, food, money, sex or even being warm and dry. The lake also helps teach Ruthie these habits, as Robinson makes the lake a character and has it move into the house a week after Sylvie.

    Fear of the "other world". The "other world" is the normal world other Fingerboners live in. The "other world" took Lucille! It is going to break up my "family"! The ghostly drift is accelerated by Robinson's cunning intrusion of "the other world" into her fairy tale: there are people at school inquiring, they are looking on from the orchard's edge, now they are peering in at the windows, someone is on the porch and already knocking at the door: and by the time the neighborhood's elderly ladies are sitting in the living room observing the cats and cans and stacks of periodicals, our little ghost can only react by setting fire to the house and vanishing. (Incidental note: I propose the Simplified Robinson Rule as a test of a person's sanity: If the number of semi-feral animals pooping in your house exceeds one, we should call for the police. Really, the only good place for a cat is in a barn.)

    Along the way to dispensing full-fledged ghostification, Robinson gets to have some philosophic fun; for only a ghost can take seriously the Platonic claim that we remember things from before we are born; or take seriously the useless Cartesian appearance-reality dualism; and find Cartesian skepticism as not skepticism at all but simply common (ghost) sense.

    Robinson's themes stick in your head: the dogs, the windows, the railroad, the vortex, the ice, the cold---always the cold. Ruthie's encounters with the lake yield the most poetic prose, like the following which is as beautiful as the lake, and connects the lake to Ruthie's house:

    "Only out beyond these two reaches of land could we see the shimmer of open lake. The sheltered water between them was glossy, dark, and rank, with cattails at its verge and water lilies in its shadows, and tadpoles, and minnows, and farther out, the plosh now and then of a big fish leaping after flies. Set apart from the drifts and tides and lucifactions of the open water, the surface of the bay seemed almost viscous, membranous, and here things massed and accumulated, as they do in cobwebs or in the eaves and unswept corners of a house. It was a place of distinctly domestic disorder, warm and still and replete."

    Robinson's one artistic misstep was the inexplicable injection of Cain, Rachel, Job and Absalom into the narrative. I am positive they were wondering what they were doing there too. And I have one meta-structural quibble: Why would a ghost---or drifter, if you will---write this story?

    In sum, good structure, often beautiful prose. Robinson writes with intelligence, although I would welcome it if she cracked a joke at least every hundred pages or so....more info
  • A classic
    An unforgettable book. Subtle and heartbreaking, with surprising humor. My copy is festooned with margin markers, pointing out passages I found breathtaking. The Guardian called it "A strange, haunting, radiant statement about the spirit of place and the transience of life." Couldn't say it any better. ...more info
  • terrible
    so boring i couldnt get through it maybe just me. the characters were also confusing and hard to get to know...more info
  • More Interesting than You'd Think
    I just finished reading one of the only novels I had started and not finished. I was supposed to read it for a Philosophy of Literature course I took during my undergraduate studies and during this failed effort I found this to be the most boring book in the world and couldn't get past the first 20 pages (of only 219 pages!) At the time I confessed to this in class and found that I wasn't alone. However, the interesting thing was that it was all the males in the room that found it so boring and all the females who found it so intriguing.

    Now, let me immediately say I don't think this has anything to do with the fact that it is titled housekeeping. However, at the time we talked in class a great deal about the difference between a novel with such a feminine perspective and voice and the more numerous novels with a decidedly masculine voice and tone, regardless of the author's gender. I think the most distinctive difference between this novel and most novels I've read is the pace. It is very, very slow and methodical. The cover heralds the praise it received from the New York Times Book Review: "so precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure that it might yield." I would agree. What I mistook in my first stalled out attempt to read this novel as clunky, boring details were in fact the careful groundwork of great storytelling.

    Nearly every dislike I had for this book was disproved during my second read. This book accomplishes an integral task of a successful novel, which is that the form of the storytelling reflects the world of the characters and causes the reader to experience the character's world in the same way. Years ago I criticized the book for doling out details in a stutter-stop fashion, but as I reread it now I realized that this is exactly how the characters matured and learned about these same things. Another gripe I had initially was of the pace, but this I think in reality just drives home how dull and slow the narrator's childhood and path into adulthood was. The act of housekeeping has so many meanings throughout the text that I don't want to spoil any of them, but I found it to be a useful touchstone as I followed the young sisters through adolescence in a small, boring, little town years ago.

    Overall, the story is very compelling and chapter after chapter the plight of the women whose lives this novel revolves around delve ever deeper into sadness and loneliness. However, it is in this complete isolation that the protagonist finds some semblance of happiness and peace. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who has an open mind and enjoys a well-crafted novel....more info
  • beautiful prose but....
    Housekeeping did not grab me the way Gilead did. (It would be unfair to compare but I had such high expectations after reading Gilead) Firstly Ruthie's story was so sad without being uplifting and in the end ,left me feeling very empty. Then the matter of "water, water everywhere" metaphor,issues of loss and abandonment , I found rather tiresome and repetitive . For me the saving grace was Ms.Robinson's undoubtedly evocative prose - it's lyrical, melancholic and breathtakingly beautiful. I can see that most reviewers have applauded this book, stating it as a classic..... perharps it's just me... i don't quite get it. ...more info
  • A Work of Beauty and Heart-Wrenching Subtleties
    This is a story that creates a world of its own, a special town where the senses drive the story, where details jump off the mage and lodge in memory. The author writes about layers of loss the characters soldier through with freshness and determination, taking us on a journey of hope as the characters bond in moving forward.

    The novel has no predictable strokes of description or emotional cliches-- and for that alone it is a masterpiece.

    ...more info
  • Pretty language but couldn't stay awake
    This novel is comprised of pretty, well constructed sentences. That's about all it is. Pretty, well constructed sentences. The story itself could be interesting, after all it is a tale of multi-generational abandonment but it is told so dispassionately that it was difficult to remain interested, let alone awake. The narrator, although the main character, was so far removed, emotionally, from her own telling of the story, that you wondered why she had bothered.

    At time it seems that the writer was so enthralled with her own use of language that she seemed to forget that there was a story that needed to be told. ...more info
  • Evoked strong feelings...
    What gorgeous language this author used ! There are lots of descriptions in this novel, and while at times they seem like they slow the story down (this book does not have a lot of action or a fast moving plot) they are a pleasure to read.

    I found the ending of the story to be very haunting and it left me with feelings of fear, fear of how easy it is for a child to be "lost". My own childhood was a mess and I felt, "lost" myself, and maybe this is why I feel so strongly.

    Truly an amazing book. I will always remember it.
    ...more info
  • A book best appreciated but not so much enjoyed
    Marilynne Robinson is an exquisite writer, there's no denying it. However, as beautiful as her writing is, it doesn't translate (to me) to an enjoyable story, and I as a reader need more than pretty words to keep me turning pages. As other reviewers mention, not remotely a plot-driven novel. Nothing wrong with that, just not for everyone. It becomes sort of a chore to read after a while.

    I'd say the same thing about Gilead....more info
  • "So a diaspora threatened always."
    "Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson has increasingly turned up on "best of" lists since its quiet debut in 1980 as the author's first novel. It makes original, artful use of the conventions of contemporary literary fiction, turning on concept and well crafted prose. It is irresistible to call it a "meditation" on the binary themes of permanence/transience, communication/silence, memory/perdition and relationships/disconnections. All of that sounds rather dull, doesn't it? And yet, this book reads like quicksilver and there is something of a psychological suspenser about it, and a whiff of something that brings Shirley Jackson to mind.

    This is a story told in the first person by a young girl named Ruth who with her sister Lucille is abandoned successively, first by their father, then by their mother's suicide, then by their widowed grandmother's death, and then by the grandmother's fusty sisters-in-law. It is the latter who offer the comic note in the story, who rush to give up the girls' care to their mother's odd drifter of a younger sister who happens to come home at this moment to the house in which she grew up. The questions arise: Does she have the parenting skills the girls need? Can she keep a decent house for them? Can she stay put? Is she right in the head? What affect will she have on them?

    This takes place in the remote town of Fingerbone, Idaho, set on the lake of the same name, a place that is bound by ice in winter, then undermined by floods and mud as spring breaks. Robinson seamlessly melds the externalities of the setting and action with the abstract themes she extracts from them. The voice she gives Ruth is lyrical and fluent with a tension to it that sweeps the narrative forward.
    ...more info
  • Which predominates: overwriting or brilliance? (3.5 *s)
    This is a book that is flooded with descriptions, imagery, and contemplation that can, from sentence to sentence, seem odd, difficult, and overwritten and then insightful, lyrical, and poetic. The central character is Sylvie, a thirty-something female, who has returned to Fingerbone, an obscure western town set on a large lake, to care for her two nieces who have lost both their grandmother and mother. The story is told from the standpoint of Ruthie, one of the girls.

    A heavy cloud hands over the entire book as death, impermanence, the power of water and the wind, cold weather, forests, mud, deprivation, and the like are constants in this rather gloomy story. It is a formidable environment that Sylvie and Ruthie, largely unsuccessfully, attempt to navigate, including social expectations and illusions. Despite an unspecified life of trouble, there is a strength and resoluteness to Sylvie that resonates.

    The plot is minimal. The characters serve as a means for the author to develop her themes. The book is difficult and tedious with digressions interlaced throughout, not to mention getting past the author's obscure word choices, yet there is brilliance on most every page.
    ...more info
  • A beautiful, haunting book
    Marilynne Robinson's masterfully told story of an atypical "housekeeping" arrangement is strange, funny, sad, lyrical, and inspiring. It is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. I found myself savoring the words, reading aloud to myself. This is a wonderful book....more info
  • profundity at your fingertips
    Housekeeping is one of the most absorbing novels I've ever read, and for me stands alongside "The Apple in the Dark" by Clarice Lispector and "Owls Do Cry" by Janet Frame, which were written about twenty years earlier. Robinson writes of loss, of family love, of people and the ways we want and want not to fit in, as seen through the eyes of two high school age sisters who know great loss themselves, unfolding in a small Idaho town around the time of WWII. Gorgeously poetic, her prose is ripe with imagistic metaphors that express the characters and their wondering with a dreamy and almost mythic profundity; these passages are seamlessly interwoven into more direct expression of the characters' lives, which she writes with insight and truth, and touches of low key humor; her descriptions of the town and the house in which they live, beautiful in their own right, all support the story of the characters' inner lives. This is a story of people's hearts and the losses they encounter, though it does not tell us, exactly, why they have come to be who they are. One of the things I always think about the novel is that it was written by someone who deeply loves people, for that shines through in her portrayal of the characters, even the minor ones we may not care for. Part of what's wonderful about "Housekeeping" is that, given it's perennial wisdom, you can read it every few years and be provoked to think deeply yet again on her themes, and also more deeply appreciate its beauty. ...more info
  • Best Housekeeping Tip: Avoid cluttering up your bookshelves with this one
    The quality of writing wasn't the problem with Housekeeping. It was the quality of the characters. They just aren't very interesting because they're about as deep as a paper cut and reading about them is just as painful. I plan to do a little Housekeeping myself by placing this one directly into the trash....more info
  • Haunting and Cold
    The characters are haunting. The lives and limits of Ruth and her family are oppressed in the remote town their grandfather chose for the family before tragically abandoning them with small town infamy, sorrow, and unanswered questions. Themes of redemption and loyalty, make it clear that Ruth was appropriately named by her mother.

    The writing is chilling. The description of the environment is effectively and relentlessly freezing cold. At times it reminded me of the Shipping News or the Shining with the ability to feel the extreme weather and implied relationship with the development of the characters.

    It is a beautiful and poetic book but the beginning is very slow and sure to lose some readers. I was frustrated and moved by the sadness, and occasionally laughed out loud. The part about transience was new to me and I had trouble connecting but it was interesting and I continue to reflect on it weeks after finishing the book.
    ...more info
  • Brilliant Construction
    I notice again and again that truly great novels have great structure, intense atmosphere of place and a greek tragedy unfolding. If the prose can flow over these three things with a lightness and ease then all the ingredients are there. I'd love to know what the author thinks of this book, all these years later....more info
  • library
    so many books nowadays, the american ones anyway, are tragic family tales. oh well. pg, pretty good...more info
  • longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries
    i read Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson very slowly to savor the haunting beauty and strangeness of her story as well as the many themes she weaves through it:

    * resurfacing of the deeps

    * scapegoats and sheltered vagrants

    * grief and loss

    * identity, belonging, and isolation

    * the beauty and sacredness of the everyday world; etc.

    Her prose reminds me of the poetry of Rilke or Levertov:

    There is so little to remember of anyone - an anecdote, a conversation at table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long.

    Here's another bit:

    For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires. To crave and to have are as like a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break forth upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is foreshadowing -- the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries.

    Like the best books, her story grows on you and has the power to change the way you view your life and the world....more info
  • Read Gilead First
    I would highly suggest reading Robinson's other fiction work first. This book is very slow. The pace set does not pick up throughout the book and while the writing is lovely, beautiful in fact, some might not respond well. If you are used to reading fast books, especially fiction/mystery, you may have a hard time with the sentences that take an entire page, with the adjectives that carry on and on as your eyes droop and grow weary with the passing of the sun over the sky. (if you happen to think that I should have just said 'it reads slow' this may not be your book). I HIGHLY recommend reading Gilead first which does have more of a substantial "plot" in my opinion and believable characters, deeper characters. If you love Gilead than this book will be awesome. The writing is poetry. Just slow poetry....more info
  • Hauntingly Lyrical Tale
    This beautifullly written novel is the tale of two girls orphaned by their mother's suicide into the cold mountain lake which took their remote grandfather before they were born. Robinson is a master story teller who uses lush language not to impress but for an efficiency of words. Her vocabulary and diction are "so precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure it might yield. In a story of such sorrow and lonliness where those two characteristics are palpable, the author is sympathetic to her flawed characters. Ruthie, the child narrator observes that "sorrow is a predatory thing..." She observes that "...in the way people are strange, they grow stranger." Thus she details her custodial aunt's departures from reality and her own descent into madness. "I have often noticed," she says, 'that it is almost intolerable to be looked at, to be watched, when one is idle. When one is idle and alone, the embarrassments of lonliness are almost endlessly compounded." It is not merely that she makes this observation which makes the story great, but that she is able to distill the accompanying emotion into such measured speech.

    At first Ruthie describes her younger sister, Lucille, as the child who is mentally ill. It is only after Lucille begins to seek the friendship of her peers, to conform to societal norms, and chooses to move out of the family home and into her teacher's house that the reader realizes that Lucille is the sane sister. "She had remarked to me once or twice... that it was odd to tie back one's hair with grocery string." Ruthie ..." was increasingly struck by Lucille's ability to look the way one was supposed to look... but try as she might, she could never do as well for me." Their aunt, Sylvie kept her clothes and toiletries in a cardboard box under the bed while she slept fully clothed and with her shoes on on top of the covers with a quilt pulled over her. Sometimes she slept out doors on the lawn. She dressed the girls inappropriately for the weather and the occassion. They wore blue sequined slippers of inferior quality to trudge through the muddy roads to school and in orlon sweaters instead of coats on cold days. Their diet was inconsistent and incomplete.

    Still Robinson finds humor amidst the sadness. She describes Bernice as an old woman who"...managed to look like a young woman with a ravaging disease..." We all know a few characters who could be described thusly. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book. I don't agree with the other reviewers who found it slow or uninteresting. I could not put it down. It read splendidly. I loved her Pullitzer winning Gilead as well. Read this touching tale of tragedy and mental illness. You won't be sorry....more info
  • A Bloated Short Story
    I didn't like this book. I didn't like this book and I'm so sorry I wasted my money and time reading it. I have never seen so much fill and fluff between two covers. I kept reading, thinking it will get better, but it didn't. Very disapointing throughout. If you want a good read, pick up Glass Castle....more info
  • Another enchanted reader
    This novel is enchanting. The opening image of the train accident with all its sensuous detail (the young swimmer who brushes the sleek window on a deep dive) and dark mystery (It was not, strictly speaking, spectacular, because no one saw it happen) set the novel forward on a narrative track that boarders on dream or long ago memory.

    Lines like--"Sometimes it seemed to me my grandmother saw our black souls dancing in the moonless cold and offered us deep-dish apple pie as a gesture of well-meaning and despair"--sing through the narrative often and offer still deeper enchantment.

    Along with its enchantment, there are other things to admire about the novel. Robinson uses repetitive and rhyming (or perhaps reflecting is a better word) images. And the characters seem destined to lead lives that are reflections (usually dark and a little bit bitter) of the lives lead by their forbearers. It is in this way that the devices of the novel harmonize with the characters and movement.

    That said, I found the book slow and somewhat tedious--especially the first 100 pages. I kept reading mostly because I enjoyed the paragraph by paragraph writing. I ultimately did not find the characters particularly engaging. Nor did they really come to life until well past page 120. The idea being perhaps that the first person narrator--Ruthie--did not see a particular distinction between herself and those around her, particularly those to whom she was closest. And as she ages and changes through the novel, she comes to see how the desires of others differ from her own--those moments of distinction and separation are pretty obvious in the novel. But to slog through two-thirds of the novel before the central characters come alive pushes this reader's patience. And it would have been an absolute failure were it not for the caliber of writing. I suppose the argument could be made that the narrator was all the character one could need, but she is so much a part of all that is around her, her character so speculative (she often falls in to what would have happened, or what she imagined happened) that she never really comes alive--until the final third of the novel.

    But the narrator's lack of differentiation, the pace of the novel, the events, the literary devices and careful line by line writing, work well to achieve the aim of this novel.

    I could not help but compare this novel to Robinson's other work, Gilead, which is one the best novels I have read in a very long time. Gilead does not rely on devices to carry the narrative through, it very quickly becomes its own complete and vivid world, and the characters within that world wrestle with very human situations. Housekeeping has an otherworldly quality--and though enchanting, I am just not as into that sort of thing. ...more info
  • women's fiction
    Okay, don't send this with your husband on his next business trip. It's very much a women's book as the title implies. It's actually about two girls being raised by aunts who don't do the housekeeping and raise them unconventionally. Which it turns out isn't all bad. But it's a story that happens very very slowly. I think many readers will like the delicate unfolding of Ruthie's life before it burns like ash, but others will roll their eyes and say that not enough is happening. Robinson's a masterful writer, but like Duras, it's the writing that appeals. Kate Gale...more info