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Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
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Housekeeping (1981)

by Marilynne Robinson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,1841281,196 (3.96)343
  1. 10
    Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (sturlington)
  2. 10
    The Swimmer by Zsuzsa Bánk (Emydidae)
  3. 00
    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)
  4. 00
    Surfacing by Margaret Atwood (cransell)
  5. 00
    So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell (Jesse_wiedinmyer)
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» See also 343 mentions

English (126)  German (1)  All languages (127)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
I made no impact on the world, and... in exchange I was privileged to watch it unawares.

The prose, the quiet, original prose, so sublimely exquisite, is everything in this melancholy novel about sisters, identity, family, memory. From the glamorously shocking, stylish car-soaring suicide attempts of Helen, to the everyday, almost biblical, most fantastical flood - with its languid descriptions of ribbed water and water-laden curtains, the slish and moil of her steps -, the plot itself is emotionally powerful on its own and it is by no means an insult to say that it is still secondary to the prose. The complicated minutiae of family relationships here is gently probed, peeled back, slivers placed under a microscope for further examination, placed back in a neat-but-end-nearing Jenga tower, before toppled in slow-motion. To explain the story in anything but its original prose is to do a great disservice to the author. A read recommended for a rainy, preferably flooding day in a slightly musty room. ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Apr 3, 2016 |
Pretty, surreal, sparse, vivid, honest, bittersweet - I'm going to be thinking about it for a while, but this book is a lot of good things. ( )
  KLmesoftly | Mar 22, 2016 |
Loved this book. Was a great tale of two sisters somewhat lost in the world. Highly recommend. ( )
  lacey.tucker | Mar 10, 2016 |
A beautifully written gem of a novel about loneliness and transience. If you have a chance, see the movie, starring Christine Lahti. She's wonderful in it.

Update: Sept 2011
This slim little volume is Robinson’s debut novel. It is beautifully written, with lyrical prose. But very little actually happens in the book to move the story. And that is the whole point, I think.

At its core it is a novel about loss, abandonment, loneliness and transience.

Ruthie and Lucille are orphaned at an early age when their mother commits suicide by driving into the lake near their grandparents’ home – the same lake into which their grandfather’s train plunged long before they were born. They are raised by their grandmother and, when she dies, two great aunts (their grandfather’s maiden sisters) who simply cannot cope. Eventually their aunt Sylvie (their mother’s youngest sister) arrives to care for them.

But it slowly becomes clear to Ruth and Lucille, and eventually the whole town, that Sylvie is an odd duck. She never wants the lights on, she prefers cold food, she collects empty cans and old newspapers, she seems oblivious to social convention and even to the cold. She is clearly struggling with having to stay put and care for her nieces, when her heart is in wandering, being transient and beholden to no one.

Still Ruth and Lucille love her … until Lucille’s emerging need to become a part of a larger society of friends drives a wedge between her and her sister and aunt. And things rapidly deteriorate once Lucille abandons Ruthie and Sylvie to the house that floods in the spring, to wandering the woods at night, and exploring the lake in a stolen boat.

The ending is inevitable, sad, and uplifting all at once. The movie version has a much happier, “freer” feel to the ending than the book does, and perhaps the memory of that last movie scene colors my impression.

I love the language of this book, the images are so different - clear but murky – in a sort of half-dream state. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 15, 2016 |
After reading Gilead and Home, I finally have read the novel that kicked off Robinson's career. I loved the other two, and this was anything but a disappointment. Sad, beautiful, intriguing, profound. Hope it's not too long before she writes another... ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Dedication
For my husband,
and for James and Joseph, Jody and Joel,
four wonderful boys.
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My name is Ruth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 5 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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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