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Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
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Housekeeping (original 1981; edition 1984)

by Marilynne Robinson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8921221,320 (3.96)315
Member:kiwidoc
Title:Housekeeping
Authors:Marilynne Robinson
Info:Bantam (1984), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Fiction. American.

Work details

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1981)

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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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Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
I finished Housekeeping last night. I have read Marilynne Robinson's other fiction books (which I have loved) so I thought I would give this one a whirl. Many years ago we had seen the movie ( made from the book) and I remember thinking it was quirky and interesting. So I looked up the DVD in the library today and it is listed under the "comedy" section. Wow! Now that was a big surprise to me as I did not find this book funny or written with humourous intent at all. I found it moving, sad, and tragic. I found some of the writing heavy going and a little impentetrable and other writing perfect so that I wanted to use a highlighter marker on passages and sentences that were expressed so well. Would I read another of her books? Yes, in a heartbeat. She seems to see inside human beings. ( )
2 vote mdoris | Jan 19, 2015 |
At its heart, Housekeeping is a beautiful little story inflated with gorgeous big words. The focus in this novel is definitely on language. While the characters are good and the story certainly stands on its own, the language is what makes this novel striking. At times, the words Robinson uses are perfect; at other times, I think they're a stretch. Nevertheless, the book is lush with language.

What did not work for me at all was the narrative style. It's almost entirely exposition, light on dialogue, lacking scenes. And when I think exposition told from the first person, I think of the oral tale. And Housekeeping, with its fifty-cent words, sounds nothing like an oral tale. The story was very rural, yet the style was all professor. Did the language paint the setting brilliantly? Absolutely. But when it came to the characters and their story, I felt the language failed them. One can tack a lot of words onto a book like this—words like lush and intelligent—but it lacks some of the words that I feel are most important to a story—words like relatable and warm. Housekeeping paints a pretty picture, but it doesn't do much else. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jan 16, 2015 |
This book takes a fair bit of patience to read. It is maximalist in the extreme. What this means is that, in effect, there is a great deal of writing that sounds utterly poetic and beautiful, while there is also a large bit more writing than is strictly necessary to describe people and events. As a result, it can feel exceedingly tedious at times. Yet, some people might also find it very appealing. Personally, it was hit or miss for me throughout the book.

The story is also, in a word, odd. It is definitely not light and easy reading, but it does lend itself to a great deal of discussion and analysis, and will definitely cause every reader to have some strong opinions and reactions. Not necessarily positive ones, but opinions and reactions just the same. ( )
1 vote TiffanyAK | Dec 31, 2014 |
from oct 2014:

this is really beautifully written, so i'm not sure why i don't like it more. i feel like i should love it so i keep trying - this is my third read - and each time something just doesn't do it for me. the story itself isn't interesting to me until quite close to the end, but that isn't it. i'm really not sure what is keeping me from really connecting to this book or this author, and because she is a talented writer i'll probably give her other fiction a try.

"My grandmother was not a woman given to excesses of any kind, and so her aging, as it became advanced, was rather astonishing."

(3 stars)

from may 2008:

"I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation. I expected - an arrival, an explanation, an apology. There never had been one, a fact I could have accepted, were it not true that, just when I got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hid in its shadows. That most moments were substantially the same did not detract at all from the possibility that the next moment might be utterly different. And so the ordinary demanded unblinking attention. Any tedious hour might be the last of its kind."

(2 stars) ( )
  elisa.saphier | Oct 28, 2014 |
Childhood filled to the brim with atmosphere of fear and unsecurity; the world filled with ghosts of past and future terrible things: the lake and the train, the mother and the aunt. Things and people one should rely on turn out unreliable and trecherous. The world is not a safe place. Excellent writing. ( )
  flydodofly | Aug 31, 2014 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:55 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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