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Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
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Housekeeping (1980)

by Marilynne Robinson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8531561,417 (3.94)383
  1. 10
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    A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay (Miels)
    Miels: Both are lyrical, heavily atmospheric novels. Both concern the relationship between a strange, bookish protagonist and her more sensible sister. In Robinson's book, it's an eccentric aunt who comes between them. In Hay's, it's a charming, seductive man. Both books are very much about love, loss, social ostracism, and ephemeral/elemental beauty.… (more)
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» See also 383 mentions

English (153)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
I liked Gilead. Couldn't get into Lila. Am liking Housekeeping so far. ( )
  ReadMeAnother | Jan 28, 2019 |
Atmospheric, full of dreamy descriptions, and a finalist for the Pulitzer.

As young girls, Ruth and her sister are abandoned at their grandmother's house by their mother, Helen, who then drives her car off a cliff into the local lake. This is the same lake that took the life of Helen's father, who was aboard a train that drove off a local bridge into the water years earlier. The grandmother takes care of the sisters in a rather distant but caring way until she dies, and then two elderly great-aunts arrive and pick up where she left off. They don't quite know what to do with the girls either, and eventually they track down Helen's sister, Sylvie, to see if she will come and live with the girls. Sylvie is a tramp (of the train-hitching type), and while she does her best, she is very strange and brings the eyes of local officials on to their little family. Ruth is very much like Sylvie, ill at ease with the regular world, although sister Lucille makes every effort to be "normal".

Not as engaging as Robinson's "Gilead", which I adored, but so well-written that the extensive descriptions and day-dreaming still pull the reader along to the, to me, surprising and satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Jan 3, 2019 |
This novel is full of rich descriptions of setting with not much attention to plot or action. The language used is enjoyable, but slow. ( )
  niquetteb | Dec 20, 2018 |
I read the first few pages of this book and said "This sounds a lot lake Lake Pend'Oreille" So I googled Marilynne Robinson -- she did indeeg grow up in Sandpoint, Idaho, where I had spent two days a couple of years before. A spooky, somber part of the world.
  sonofcarc | Nov 17, 2018 |
Sisters Ruth and Lucille are dropped off at their grandmother's house just before their mother drives a car off a cliff into the lake. Ruth and Lucille stay in the house, first with their grandmother, then a couple of great aunts, then their mother's sister Sylvie. Sylvie is eccentric. She cares about Ruth and Lucille, but she is unconcerned with conventions. Eventually their idiosyncratic behavior brings unwanted attention from community leaders.

Ruth narrates the story, which is much more than an account of what happened to her family. She has a philosopher's soul, and she makes observations about weighty things like boundaries, transience, being on the outside looking in versus being on the inside looking out, loneliness, death, the meaning of family, and the relationship between humans and the landscape. I listened to the audio version read by Becket Royce. At first I thought she spoke too fast, but I soon adjusted to her cadence. At some point, the narrator became Ruth, and the words flowed as effortlessly as thought. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Sep 8, 2018 |
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For my husband,
and for James and Joseph, Jody and Joel,
four wonderful boys.
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My name is Ruth.
Quotations
Having a sister or a friend is like sitting at night in a lighted house. (p 154)
My grandmother['s]...eyes would roam over the goods she had accumulated unthinkingly and maintained out of habit as eagerly as if she had come to reclaim them. (p. 27)
Sylvie...considered accumulation to be the essence of housekeeping, and because she considered the hoarding of worthless things to be proof of a particularly scrupulous thrift. (p.180)
...fragments of the quotidian held up to our wondering attention, offered somehow as proof of their own significance (p73)
...leaves began to gather in the corners...Sylvie when she swept took care not to molest them. Perhaps she sensed a Delphic niceness in the scattering of these leaves and paper, here and not elsewhere.... (p.84-85)
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réédité en français sous le titre "La Maison de Noé "
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312424094, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:12 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"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, which is 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 illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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