Blech. I had to read this for my bookclub, and then the lady who chose it decided NOT to select this book. One good thing about book club is that it forces me to choose books outside my comfort zone. A bad thing is that I waste time reading garbage like this. Other reviewers say the author's writing is lyrical. I disliked the story so much, that I could not get around to enjoying anything about the writing style. Over and over instead of feeling sorry for the two sisters, I just felt like they were whiners who couldn't get their lives together. I have little tolerance for people who only complain about their unhappiness and want to do little to improve their lots in life.
A little difficult for me to get into. Her poetic use of language has been highly praised. However, as someone who is not a literature or english major, I don't think I could appreciate this book as much.
I truly enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written, and the metaphors that the author uses repeat themselves in different variations, tying the book together nicely. It didn't end as I'd expected it to, which was also a nice surprise. I'm not sure that this book is for everyone, it was hard to get into at first, but by the time the two aunts came into the story I was hooked. This is a short book and it is not a plot intensive/action packed book. There is a balance between the descriptive prose, and the plot so that both equally contribute to the book as a whole. Personally, I can't wait to read her other novels.
At first, I thought I would not like this book, but as I went on, the story drew me in and I found myself almost finished with it before I knew it. My only complaint is that I found myself skipping some sentences at times because her writing is so descriptive and symbolic, I didn't want to try and figure it out, but just wanted to read on to continue the story.
Mia H. (moira) reviewed Housekeeping (Audio CD) (Unabridged) on
Helpful Score: 2
this is a stunning book, ostensibly about two sisters being raised by their eccentric aunt. the language and story-telling is simply brilliant: amazingly poignant, natural, surprising, and poetic.
a quote to show what I mean:
Water is almost nothing, after all. It is conspicuously different from air only in its tendency to flood and founder and drown, and even that difference may be relative rather than absolute.
The morning that my grandmother did not awaken, Lucille and I had found her crouched on her side with her feet braced against a rumple of bedclothes, her arms flung up, her head flung back, her pigtail trailing across the pillows. It was as if, drowning in air, she had leaped toward ether. What glee there must have been among the few officials who lingered, what a tossing of crepe-banded hats, what a hearty clapping of gloved hands, when my grandmother burst through the spume, so very long after the clouds had closed over the disaster, so long after all hope of rescue had been forgotten. And how they must have rushed to wrap their coats around her, and perhaps embrace her, all of them no doubt flushed with a sense of the considerable significance of the occasion. And my grandmother would scan the shores to see how nearly the state of grace resembled the state of Idaho, and to search the growing crowds for familiar faces. (p. 164-165)
the story itself starts as matter-of-fact as the small Idaho town it is set in, and proceeds (in a manner immeasurably disconcerting to me and as strange as that same small Idaho town) towards a counterintuitively inevitable conclusion. the themes of life and death, loss and memory, reality and imagination are beautifully interwoven and expressed amid an otherworldly sense of nature. this book should be read and experienced like a poem:
Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
This is an early novel by the author of Gilead and most recently, Home. It's a mesmerizing book, possibly because the writing is absolutely beautiful. I keep finding passages I want to re-read simply because of the way Robinson uses language. This is a book to be read slowly and thoughtfully not only because of the prose style but also because it deals with some pretty heavy issues like loss, grief, abandonment, suicide, transcience and lonliness. Obviously this is not "light" reading! It also forces us to think about what it means to be "normal" and why families - in whatever shape or size they happen to be - are so important. [close]
The prose style is lovely, and the way the story accumulates, scene by scene, is masterly. But I'm not patient enough for portions of this book, particularly the recounting of Cain & Abel in the penultimate chapter. I'm afraid that I've discovered that I'm much more like Lucille than like the narrator, Ruthie, or like Sylvie.
Victoria S. reviewed Housekeeping (Audio CD) (Unabridged) on
Helpful Score: 1
A novel of stream-of-consciousness style, where you float with the characters through the book. The most unusual characters I have seen in a long time. Friend called it the saddest book she had ever read, but I found Sylvie liberating. Lovely book but a challenge to read. Worth it though.
Good Book, if you get through the introduction chapter. It really shows you the important things in life are happiness, beauty, and love.This is not a novel that you hurry through.It is about the life of two young girls, and what they went through.
This is a lauded piece of literary fiction by a Pullitzer price winning author. It's about a very different way of coming-of-age. Doris Lessing gives it a BIG thumbs up. I was engrossed by it and read it in a day.
i have to admit- i am on the fence about this book. it was ok. not good enough for me to make a note of this author and read her next book. not bad enough for me to put it down unfinished. i also admit i skimmed through several times- for me, this is a sign of a dull read. maybe you will like it more than i did.
Housekeeping is told from the perspective of a child trying to make sense of the chaotic hand she's been dealt. It sounds tragic, and of course it is, but also kind and warm. I was bowled over by this book years ago, and waited forever for more from Robinson. She finally came through with Gilead, which was well worth the wait.
From Publishers Weekly
Their lives spun off the tilting world like thread off a spindle," says Ruthie, the novel's narrator. The same may be said of Becket Royce's subtle, low-keyed reading. The interwoven themes of loss and love, longing and loneliness"the wanting never subsided"require a cool, almost impersonal touch. Royce narrates natural and manmade catastrophe and ruin as the author offers them: with a sort of watery vagueness engulfing extraordinary events. Occasionally this leads Royce to sound sleepy or to glide over humor. But she expresses Ruthie's story without any irksome effort to sound childlike, and she avoids the pitfall of dramatizing other characters, such as the awkward sheriff, the whispery insubstantiality of Aunt Sylvie or the ladies bearing casseroles to lure Ruthie away from Aunt Sylvie and into their concept of normality. Originally published in 1980 and filmed in 1987, Housekeeping is finally on audio because of Robinson's new Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gilead. The novel holds up remarkably and painfully well, and the language remains searching and sonorous. Anatole Broyard wrote back then: "Here is a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life...." And because the author's rhythms, images and diction are so original and dense, this audio is a treasure for listeners who have or haven't read the book.
Ruth and Lucille grew up with their grandmother after their mother drove her car into the same lake that their grandfather's train derailed and sank into years earlier. When grandmother passed away two great aunts were called in to raise the girls. This didn't work out too well as they were not used to children and both the girls and their great aunts were uncomfortable together. So now an aunt (their dead mother's sister) is mustered in.
Aunt Sylvie is a bit of a strange duck and for the better part of the book we don't know why. She doesn't say much, she hoards tin cans, magazines and papers; she likes to be in the dark, she sleeps flat on her back with her shoes on, etc.
The first half of the book was a fairly cozy, comfy read. The second half is quite a bit darker. The closeness of the sisters begins to erode and discomforting activities begin to occur with the girls and with the aunt.
All in all, I give this one fair marks. It held my interest and I cared about the characters to a degree, but never became immersed in their lives. It was good enough that I will look for more of her work and had I been able to connect more closely with the characters it would have garnered a higher mark.
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.
Though I am completely uninterested in "quiet, little lives of desperation", I did find that Housekeeping is a book I shall reread - multiple times. Comparisons of the structure and language feel to The Great Gatsby is the highest accolade I can give. Tremendous. My caveat is the last 2 chapters; my opinion is that Ms. Robinson didn't know how to end the story. I resent the intrusion of the christian and biblical references, which are certainly her personal heritage and interest. Her prerogative, but I cannot find that this coda to the book adds anything; I feel it takes away from the impact and value of the story and lessens the long term weight of the oeuvre.
This is the first novel by Marilynne Robinson who won awards for her next book Gilead. This is a story of two young girls who lose their mother and are reared by a grandmother, then two aunts and then another aunt. It is also a story of a family in a small town that is overshadowed by a haunting lake that has claimed the lives of many, including the children's mother and grandfather.
I'm truly amazed at all the good to excellent reviews I've read about this book. Suggest the reviewer's read Barbara Kingsolvers books. Had to read for book club. Most of the ladies were confused by excellent reviews. Definite mixed reactions to the book! Some liked, some did not. I thought it lacked a good plot. Another lady thought it was lazy writing. All in all not sure that I will even finish it.
Does make me curious about her later book,Gilead,that won the 2005 Pulitzer prize for fiction.
"Here's a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life...You can feel in the book a gathering voluptuous release of confidence, a delighted surprise at the unexpected capacities of language, a close, careful fondness for people we only thought saints felt" New York Times.
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.