Housekeeping

Housekeeping

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Housekeeping 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 104 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading one of the only novels I had started and not finished. I was supposed to read it for a Philosophy of Literature course I took during my undergraduate studies and during this failed effort I found this to be the most boring book in the world and couldn't get past the first 20 pages (of only 219 pages!) At the time I confessed to this in class and found that I wasn't alone. However, the interesting thing was that it was all the males in the room that found it so boring and all the females who found it so intriguing. Now, let me immediately say I don't think this has anything to do with the fact that it is titled housekeeping. However, at the time we talked in class a great deal about the difference between a novel with such a feminine perspective and voice and the more numerous novels with a decidedly masculine voice and tone, regardless of the author's gender. I think the most distinctive difference between this novel and most novels I've read is the pace. It is very, very slow and methodical. The cover heralds the praise it received from the New York Times Book Review: 'so precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure that it might yield.' I would agree. What I mistook in my first stalled out attempt to read this novel as clunky, boring details were in fact the careful groundwork of great storytelling. Nearly every dislike I had for this book was disproved during my second read. This book accomplishes an integral task of a successful novel, which is that the form of the storytelling reflects the world of the characters and causes the reader to experience the character's world in the same way. Years ago I criticized the book for doling out details in a stutter-stop fashion, but as I reread it now I realized that this is exactly how the characters matured and learned about these same things. Another gripe I had initially was of the pace, but this I think in reality just drives home how dull and slow the narrator's childhood and path into adulthood was. The act of housekeeping has so many meanings throughout the text that I don't want to spoil any of them, but I found it to be a useful touchstone as I followed the young sisters through adolescence in a small, boring, little town years ago. Overall, the story is very compelling and chapter after chapter the plight of the women whose lives this novel revolves around delve ever deeper into sadness and loneliness. However, it is in this complete isolation that the protagonist finds some semblance of happiness and peace. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who has an open mind and enjoys a well-crafted novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The work that it took to get through this novel was SERIOUS!!! Another reviewer stated that it's like each sentence is a poem within itself. However, it's not a poem...it's a novel and reading pages after pages of paragraphs full of that style of writing can be too much for the average joe. At times I actually read some of the sentences outloud to my friends and when finished, they looked back at me with shocked faces. The story gets more interesting as it goes along but the amount of work it took to get there isn't worth it. I do not recommend this book to anyone who does not have 2 hours to read one page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read Gilead prior, I was acquainted with Robinson's prose, immense and intricate and bearing the force of many oceans through the perfect interweaving of words. However, nothing could have prepared me for the impact of this story. As while reading Gilead, there were many moments during Housekeeping when I felt I would collapse under it. Few writers of any era can hold up to a comparison with Robinson's gentle ability to weave everything important into one perfectly crafted sentence and to together weave every perfectly crafted sentence into a tapestry of shimmering beauty and stark sorrow and dark, soothing uncertainty. Housekeeping evokes from the reader's heart and mind the deepest archetypes of love and family and companionship and abandonment of fear and desolation and the beauty beneath them of coming of age and realizing the unique solitude in which we all exist together, yet as separately as water and air. Time and place, physical topography and elemental composition merge to create the spirits of the characters, and ultimately, the inexorable permanence of all life is joined with the knowledge of transience the result is a masterpiece for which no prize, no title, will ever be good enough.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was flawlessly written, but unfortunately I mean that in an ambiguous or even a negative way. The author's prose style is impeccable, there is not a sentence out of place, and there are moments of great lyrical beauty, as in the description of the narrator's and her aunt's night spent out by the lake. But the author's storytelling is devoted to a story of emotional emptiness. There is little psychology or analysis of motive here, and while this is probably the author's aim, the novel as a whole falls short of the sum of its parts. Still, it cannot be faulted for anything in particular, and the prose is reasonably good. Many readers will like it, but there will be some people here and there who find it vacuous, too. I am reminded of Thomas Carlyle's comment on Tennyson's Idylls, 'the lollipops are so superlative,' and that holds here as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up several years ago for a class and never actually finished it that year--after reading it cover to cover last year, I realized that I had only just then emotionally grown into it, before having been incapable of fully recognizing the absolute beauty of 'Housekeeping.' Robinson speaks so directly to the loss and displacement within every human being that I find myself opening it again and again to look at any random page to more fully understand the complexity of human character that she so artfully conveys through her prose. The repetition of loss generationally echoes in the motion of the novel's town, its people, and even the lake which embodies the very inconstancy of life itself. Reading this book was a profoundly deep experience from a non-spritual standpoint, and yet is capable of affecting the spiritual as well, the coincidence of which few books seem to be capable. I reccommend this book to anyone who has ever felt inexplicable loss and the desire to somehow explain or justify it without necessarily applying meaning to its occurrence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robinson's style of writing makes for a slower read, like Jane Austen's books(don't care for). The wording of the story was lovely at times. I found the story a bit slow but it has stayed with me after reading it several months ago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like words and their use in unusual sentence structure, this is definitely the book for you. If you are looking for a tight plot with a beginning, middle and end, you won't find that in this book. Plus, best read it on your Nook so that you can easily look up words (good luck in trying to guess which meaning she means).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most beautifully-written novel I have had the pleasure to read. Robinson not only maintains a tight, cohesive plot with plenty of swerves to hold attention, but she also manages to focus on serious women's issues, including societal expectations and family associations, in this story about girls growing up in small-town America. The language is exquisite, now serving as an inspiration to my own writing. The story is not a repeat of what has already been done and redone; it is fresh and so vivid in its details that I caught myself wondering if it was actually fiction or Robinson's own life! All women, and men who want to discover a few of the mysteries of what it is truly like to be women, should read this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a total waste of time; kept reading it in hopes it would get better since it has some good reviews, but ended up totally disappointed. It's depressing, boring, and the subject matter is totally blah. Normally I pass my bookson to others to enjoy, but I'll be tossing this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a complete waste of time.  It was the only book that no one in our book club liked.
AKepsel More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I have gone back and reread it several times. Marilynne Robinson is poetic and is clearly a lover of classic literature to write a book that resembles those of Virginia Woolf. Captivating characters, macabre atmosphere and strangely relatable feelings of emptiness and the calm that comes when you've found comfort in silence. This book is to be indulged in, not read through.
a_reader25 More than 1 year ago
I first read it years ago, and then recently again. It is a beautifully written book, deep with imagery and character development. It is a treasure. The film with Christine Lahti does every page justice. You can watch it on iTunes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I identified strongly with the themes of this book, loss, acceptance and transience of and in life. Every sentence is a poem within itself. Recommend it to every woman struggling with society's idea of what a woman should be.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. I presume most readers will enjoy the poetic introspective language used in telling the story of two girls who grow up in a family with a streak of free-spirit in their family heritage. Unfortunately, the term ¿free-spirit¿ is in this case may be a euphemism for mental illness. I¿m not qualified to diagnose this sort of illness, but I am unable to celebrate such behavior. The story is told in first person by the younger of the two sisters who grows up in what is best described as benign neglect. The narrative has the sound of an innocent child who views the only environment she¿s know as being normal. In the end the sisters go in opposite directions. I can¿t say much more without being a spoiler. I will say that you need to read all the way through the end to understand the book. Otherwise it will seem like a story in which not much happens. This book was selected as the ¿Big Read¿ for Kansas City, MO this year. I didn¿t want to be left out so I listened to the audio format. Now I feel like a good member of the metro area.
wvlibrarydude on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this book was a real chore. The writing seemed to be good, but it never took my mind anywhere. No plot to speak of. Characters that were just strange and unconnected. A very different, morbid, sad tale. Gilead was a much better read. It is amazing how different a reaction you can have to a writer's work from one book to another.
morningwalker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wish I could have liked this book more because it has been on my list to read for awhile. I really wanted to absorb the literary beauty, rather than just finish to see what happened to Ruthie, Lucille, and Sylvie, yet I found myself skimming quickly over descriptive, non-dialogue parts because there were just too many of them, I didn't always see them being relevant to the story, I was bored???? I don't know why for sure, maybe it was just me. I was also a bit confused by the reviews and remarks on the back of the book and inside cover that refer to the humor of the novel. I felf the town of Fingerbone, the characters, and the overall mood throughout to be oppressive and dark. Where was the humor?
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Our narrator, Ruth, and her sister Lucille have been abandoned by many in their lives. The first to leave them was their mother, who dropped them off at their grandmother's house, and drove into the same lake that claimed her father and a whole train full of people many years ago.It's hard to explain what this story is about since there is very little in terms of plot. These are Ruth's often poetic reflections on living, loss, abandonment, and loneliness. It is atmospheric and melancholy. The lake itself has a presence as strong as any character. The writing is superb, but you have to have the patience (and I admit I often do not) for a slow unfolding and revealing of character rather than a conventional storyline. If you do, however, you're sure to be rewarded.
CasualFriday on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robinson's first novel is about two sisters who are cared for by an aunt after their mother drives her car into the same lake that claimed the life of their grandfather. The aunt, Sylvie, has been a drifter and has a few screws loose, although I don't think Robinson used those exact words. The younger sister, Lucille, longs for a conventional life, while Ruthie, the narrator, is drawn into Sylvie's world.This book was thrust at me by a library patron who told me it had an amazing ending. It was that recommendation that kept me motivated to read through many passages that were beautifully written, but sometimes too dreamlike and abstract for me to comprehend. I don't think I'm intelligent enough for Marilynne Robinson in general, but when this book hunkered down into story and character, I liked it a lot. And yes, the ending was amazing - a perfect piece of writing that takes one's breath away.
AndieG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although, I thought the writing was quite beautiful I could not get interested in the book. Every time I picked it up I wanted to take a nap. Perhaps it was because it seemed to melancholy. I prefer a more character and plot driven book. All that said I can see why some people would really enjoy reading this book.
UmdlotiLover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I chose this because I adored Gilead... But a completely different book altogether. Some very poetic writing, but I also struggled for much of the way through the plot. Beautifully developed characters, but too much descriptive pieces sometimes.
jbushnell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A compelling, haunting, nearly Gothic novel. Insular, spooky, tragic, grand. Nearly every sentence is a gem, beautifully cracked.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of two girls, abandoned by a series of family members, one after the other. There are definitely themes of neglect and depression, of eccentricity and of living outside societal norms. This book is as much about the story as it is about the atmosphere and the disconnect between society and those who live outside it. I should have liked it more, I think, but in the end I didn't.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a charming book that slowly worked its magic on me. Two girls, orphaned when their mother commits suicide, come under the care of first their grandmother, then their two great-aunts, and finally their aunt, who was previously a drifter. What I liked most about this book was its setting: the town of Fingerbone. Almost a character itself, it is an isolated place, enclosed by mountains bordering a dark, cold lake in which many people ¿ including the girls¿ mother and grandfather ¿ died. The train runs right over the lake, offering an escape from this wet, frozen, often flooded place where time does not seem to move forward.
JosephJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could not get into this. The language was exquisite but the story went nowhere. Things did not start happening that were pertinent to the main story until around page 100. Couldn't finish it.
-Cee- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two little girls were left tied to a porch, eating graham crackers, to wait for their grandmother¿s return home while their mother drove herself into a glacial lake and drowned. From then on, these sisters are cared for by family members in very unusual manners and they learn how differently they are affected by their experiences. Issues of shared family ties, sociability, permanence, conformity, and mental stability create two very different young women who fulfill two very different sets of need. How are they each affected by loss? What are their breaking points? How do they perceive their pasts and futures? What is the end result?Reading this book took some time and occasional re-reading of passages to understand. Robinson sets a vivid scene, tells a story, and contemplates the workings of the mind. Water and the lake play major roles in this book. You¿ll feel wet and cold much of the time ¿ and you¿ll feel the warmth of a heavy coat, too big, but still warm from the woman who shares it. As well as physical warmth, you will seek mental comfort¿¿What is thought, after all, what is dreaming, but swim and flow, and the images they seem to animate? The images are the worst of it. It would be terrible to stand outside in the dark and watch a woman in a lighted room studying her face in a window, and to throw a stone at her, shattering the glass, and then to watch the window knit itself up again and the bright bits of lip and throat and hair piece themselves seamlessly again into that unknown, indifferent woman. It would be terrible to see a shattered mirror heal to show a dreaming woman tucking up her hair. And here we find our great affinity with water, for like reflections on water our thoughts will suffer no changing shock, no permanent displacement.¿An interesting and thoughtful read, I was somewhat surprised by the ending. For me, it was perfect. Excellent read. Recommended.