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Housekeeping: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
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Housekeeping: A Novel (original 1981; edition 2004)

by Marilynne Robinson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,3521421,133 (3.95)355
Member:dbvisel
Title:Housekeeping: A Novel
Authors:Marilynne Robinson
Info:Picador (2004), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:fiction, american

Work details

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1981)

  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)
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Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
This was one of the most surreal novels I've read. Robinson has a very dreamy narrative style. At times it can be soothing, other times disorienting. The story line itself was interesting and the characters were well developed, I thought. Overall this was good, but I much preferred Robinson's other book Gilead . ( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Nov 28, 2016 |
A heady, evocative novel. You feel the chill in the air, and hear the swish of the water beneath the character's feet as they scramble above the river. Perhaps - fortunately - I'm reading this book at the wrong phase of my life, but its themes of loss, home, rejection, failed to resonate with me. One to revisit, along with Robinson's other work. ( )
  alexrichman | Nov 15, 2016 |
I recently read Housekeeping and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle back-to-back never suspecting that they would have so many elements in common. First of all, there is the wonderful lyrical writing -- both Robinson and Jackson are full of vivid, precise descriptions of both nature and interiors. But more intriguing are the characters and plot. Each novel is told by a first person narrator, an adolescent girl, one of a pair of orphaned sisters. Their lives are circumscribed by their outsider status; they don't fit into the tight small town societies they find themselves in. In each story a close relative intrudes into the sisterly dyad, disrupting the harmony and closeness of the sisters.

The end results of the disruptions are quite different for Ruth and Lucille in Housekeeping and Merricat and Constance in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and each novel has its own distinct angle of vision. Robinson is exploring the ephemeral, and Jackson is more concerned with gothic possibilities. But the convergence of the two tales was wonderfully serendipitous. I highly recommend both books. ( )
  janeajones | Nov 9, 2016 |
I read this because it’s such a revered novel, but I think it’s fair to say I hated it. The writing felt overwrought and nothing happened. Looking back, there were a few scenes that spoke to me or images that stayed with me, but that’s all. I’ve had some interesting discussion with people on the Well about it, but overall I feel bad that I didn’t get it. ( )
  piemouth | Oct 26, 2016 |
2.5 stars rounded up.

I didn't think this was as good as Gilead but the beauty of the prose was a redeeming feature. I guess I also "gave it some slack" knowing that this was her first book so I was more forgiving about some of the technical flaws in it.

While the theme of being different, apart from the common standards and mores, is a big part of the book, I didn't see it as a book saying "we must strive toward a society where differences are valued." I thought that it was more about whether that loneliness which can come from being different drives one to conform (like Lucille) or to accept it and stand apart (like Sylvie and Ruthie). The difference between them can't be attributed to externals (in my opinion). However, as the book is purely from Ruth's point of view, we never know how Lucille is truly perceiving things. ( )
  leslie.98 | Oct 19, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For my husband,
and for James and Joseph, Jody and Joel,
four wonderful boys.
First words
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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(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)

(summary from another edition)

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