Customer Reviews for

Housekeeping

Average Rating 3.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

More Interesting than You'd Think!

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 c...
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.

posted by Anonymous on October 29, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Definitely Not For the Average Joe!

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 mu...
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.

posted by bhw1978 on December 24, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Definitely Not For the Average Joe!

    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.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    More Interesting than You'd Think!

    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.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    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.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2007

    flawless but vacuous

    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.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2005

    Lovely writing

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    You might want to rent the movie first.

    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).

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    depressing

    beautiful language. story wierd and depressing. wasted my money

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2005

    The most beautiful novel I have ever read

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2003

    Housekeeping Sweeps the Dust out of Fiction

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    I love this book. I have gone back and reread it several times.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2011

    One of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2005

    I liked it.

    This story was ok. I have read better. I had to read it for school, and i found it diffiucult to answer the required questions on this book. On the other hand, it was peaceful and i liked that.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2004

    One of My Favorites

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Great story for book club discussion

    An unusual story about an unusual family.
    Well, not a family we are familiar with.
    Great metaphors and insights.
    Same author of "Giliad", and from reading them both, you'd never believe it was the same gifted author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2014

    Just beautiful!

    If you love beautiful, descriptive writing -- This was wonderful -- If you love action-oriented murder mysteries, this may not be for you -- It is simply a story of two sisters in difficult life circumstances, and how they adapt and grow. It is somewhat short (150 pages), but it drew me in from the first word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Maudlin

    Tiresome and maudlin. However, the language is beautiful. I can understand why this won an award. It just is not a very interesting story. Full of beautiful description but little in the way of interesting plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    Graceful writing

    This book was very well written. The story was interesting, and the writer was light with the story line. It was a pleasure to read. I would definitely recommend this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2013

    a favorite

    marilynne robinson's writing is beautiful, as is the story.

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  • Posted August 1, 2013

    Surprising Perspective

    Didn't know if I was going to like this story, since the setting is set in the earlier 1900s and in poor, rather depressing times. Nothing exciting going on here, just life as it was. The story centers around 2 young girls, who lose both parents and end up being raised by their Grandmother, who dies, then their drifter Aunt, who comes to look after them. The Aunt tries to conform to what the locals expect of a proper family but, because she remains true to herself, she can't quite fit in. One of her nieces decides she wants "normal" and leaves to live w/someone else in town. But the younger one stays w/the aunt, feels comfortable with her. They try to be what is expected of them and follow the rules so they can continue to live in their home, but are judged against society's standards and fall short. Thus, they have to leave their home and town to live their own lives the way they want. I doubt they would be judged differently today. How sad we determine how everyone "should" be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Loved it!

    Walls never fails to provide a good read

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