Housekeeping

Housekeeping

Book - 1980
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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.

Publisher: New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1980.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780312424091
9780374173135
0374173133
Branch Call Number: ROBINSON
Characteristics: 219 pages ; 22 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

2014 Read Across Lawrence selection. This literary classic explores the loneliness inherent from the transient lives of two sisters.


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RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

With the success of Marilynne Robinson’s remarkable Pulitzer-winning novel Gilead in 2005, few people remembered that her first novel appeared twenty-five years earlier with similar accolades. Housekeeping was published in 1980 to great critical reception, resulting in a PEN/Faulkner Award. Her first novel examines the ordinariness of life and how to elevate it to the extraordinary by making it something holy, sacred, and beautiful. Taking place in the small Northwestern town of Fingerbone, the story traces several generations of women in one family and examines how they encounter obstacles and how they endure them. The elements of water, air, ice, wind, and snow recur throughout the story and lend symbolism to the lives of the family. In addition, Robinson’s luminous prose is always a delight to read.

s
SunsetBranch
Mar 25, 2018

Don't worry about the story, just read it for the amazing prose

m
mperson
Jul 11, 2017

Great book

g
Giddyfeet
Oct 10, 2016

Riveting - do read in a heat wave as it's a cold and wet setting that can chill you to the bone - emotionally and physically!

z
Zoomerofall
Oct 28, 2015

The writing in this is stunning, but too over-the-top. It's relentless, even when stunning description is not needed, and it gets in the way of character development and story telling. And the tone is so dreary and sad. I know this is greatly praised by people who are qualified to praise good writing, but I was not sorry to have the book end.

d
DorisWaggoner
Sep 21, 2015

If I hadn't already read "Gilead," "Home," and "Lila," I'd probably have given this book five stars. But having read them all first, and going back to Robinson's first novel, it's easy to see that it IS her first novel. The promise is obviously there, the fluid writing, the wrestling with important themes. But her later books show so much more maturity as a writer. Even so, I enjoyed this immensely, for its range of vision and emotion, and its ability to make human odd and twisted characters.

g
GLNovak
Aug 27, 2015

I think you are going to either love this book or rate it, as I did, as a bit above average only because the writing itself is so evocative. There is little 'housekeeping' in the usual sense in this book. In fact the majority of the story takes place when the house is definitely the last thing on the characters' minds. Two girls, Ruthie and her younger sister Lucille, are orphaned when their mother commits suicide, and left with a grandmother who does housekeeping but is distant with them. Next a couple of maiden great-aunts who know nothing about children take over. Finally their mother's eccentric sister, Sylvie, arrives. Now we literally start wading through themes - loneliness and aloneness, belonging, not belonging, death, loss, and water, water everywhere and seemingly nothing to slake the thirst of the soul. Quite a tough read but thankfully not too long. If you can handle the subject matter, you will probably like the images and writery prose found on almost every page.

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moonshine7
Nov 12, 2014

she weaves a beautiful story with very memorable imagery.

l
lukasevansherman
Feb 02, 2014

Marilynne Robinson's debut novel, which the NYT called one of the best novels of the past 3 decades. I prefer her second, the Pulitzer prize winning "Gilead." This reminded me a bit of Willa Cather's books, especially "O Pioneers" and "My Antonia."

l
lizapierce
Oct 31, 2013

Simply put: Marilynne Robinson is a genius, and I would do just about anything to be able to put a sentence together the way she does.

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