Book Reviews

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 224 Pages.

Published: 07 July 2005 by Faber & Faber

Edition: Main

ISBN: 0571230083

EAN: 9780571230082

Acclaimed on publication as a contemporary classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and Lucille, orphansgrowing up in the small desolate town of Fingerbone in the vast northwest of America.

Abandoned by a succession of relatives, the sisters find themselves in the care of Sylvie, the remote and enigmatic sister of their dead mother. Steeped in imagery of the bleak wintry landscape around them, the sisters' struggle towards adulthood is powerfully portrayed in a novel about loss, loneliness and transience.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

Compelling but strange

Lucille and Ruth, who is the narrator of this novel, have been orphaned and are being cared for haphazardly by various female members of their family when their aunt Sylvie, who is a drifter, becomes their carer. The live together in the family home in the town of Fingerbone which is almost surrounded by water - water has taken the lives of previous family members. Sylvie is not a born housekeeper or guardian and the two sisters grow up strangely, fitting in nowhere - one sister takes to this way of life and the other finds it more difficult and finds her own way forward.

This is a strange but compelling book. It is full of images of water and eventually the water that killed the family members will try and overcome this little family too. The book is a little detached from reality and everything just a bit exaggerated but we can also see and understand that the women in this family are trying to live their own lives away from their traditional roles but that it isn't always easy. The tensions between the different ways of living are interesting and I am absolutely sure that I would not like to live as the sisters do with Sylvie yet I understand that this may be comfortable for her and them.

It is difficult to describe this book because the key to it is the writing which is elegant and clever. I am also not entirely sure what the message is, if any, that the author is putting across unless it is that we must all do our own thing and what way of life suits us best. Nevertheless I very much enjoyed this book and maybe a future rereading will reveal more of the author's purpose to me.

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