The Keepers of the House

( 8 )

Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1965, The Keepers of the House is Shirley Ann Grau’s masterwork, a many-layered indictment of racism and rage that is as terrifying as it is wise.

Entrenched on the same land since the early 1800s, the Howlands have, for seven generations, been pillars of their Southern community. Extraordinary family lore has been passed down to Abigail Howland, but not all of it. When shocking facts come to light about her late grandfather William’s relationship...

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Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1965, The Keepers of the House is Shirley Ann Grau’s masterwork, a many-layered indictment of racism and rage that is as terrifying as it is wise.

Entrenched on the same land since the early 1800s, the Howlands have, for seven generations, been pillars of their Southern community. Extraordinary family lore has been passed down to Abigail Howland, but not all of it. When shocking facts come to light about her late grandfather William’s relationship with Margaret Carmichael, a black housekeeper, the community is outraged, and quickly gathers to vent its fury on Abigail. Alone in the house the Howlands built, she is at once shaken by those who have betrayed her, and determined to punish the town that has persecuted her and her kin.

Morally intricate, graceful and suspenseful, The Keepers of the House has become a modern classic.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Each year, I reread three authors—Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Shirley Ann Grau. No one else writes about the landscape of Louisiana as she does, but also about the landscape of bitter love and family dreams, of sex not as romance but as commerce and experiment and mystery, of people adrift in their lives and people so tethered to their own pieces of earth. Keepers of the House is a masterpiece of history and race and the fragile yet tenuous ownership of land and love."
—Susan Straight, author of the National Book Award Finalist Highwire Moon

“A beautifully written book.”—Atlantic Monthly

“Her best novel.”—Saturday Review

“Shirley Ann Grau is one of those rare writers who creates a world, draws the reader into it, and makes him somehow happy there no matter what goes on.…Such is her beguilement that one comes to the novel’s end with a sense of loss and leaves that world with reluctance.” —Newsweek

Library Journal
Grau's 1965 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of Abigail Howland, the current head of a prominent Southern family who becomes a pariah when her neighbors learn that her grandfather had a serious relationship with his black maid. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400030743
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/11/2003
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 241,577
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Shirley Ann Grau is the author of five other novels–Roadwalkers, The House on Coliseum Street, The Hard Blue Sky, The Condor Passes, and Evidence of Loveand three story collections. She lives in New Orleans and on Martha’s Vineyard.
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Table of Contents

Abigail 1
William 7
Margaret 79
Abigail 137
Epilogue 291
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2011

    Excellent and powerful

    Great story. A fair treatment of white/black relationships in that era, as understood by a spectator of the late 20th century. The ending is a bit extreme, and the characters of the children of the main characters questionable.

    I came away from the book with a good feeling on the whole.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2007

    A Secret That Changed How A Family Was Thought Of

    What happens when a rich, white man gets married to a black housekeeper and they have three children together? In 1964, Shirley Ann Grau won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, The Keepers of the House. In this book, Grau used many metaphors and some personification. This novel is often compared to The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty because they are both Pulitzer Prize winning novels and their plots are similar. The Keepers of the House is a very descriptive and interesting novel with a very rural setting and well developed characters, an enticing plot, and connections that the reader can only imagine making.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 22, 2004

    S Biggs- a great read

    I think this book is timeless! Even though it is an older book, it can indeed hold it's on with any contemporary fiction book written today.The author draws you into the world and life of the Howland family. When the book ends,you won't be ready to leave them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful

    Sometimes you come across a book that reminds you why you love your favorite genre. From me, the genre is literary fiction and for me The Keepers of The House is one of those books that reminds me why I am a literary fiction reader.

    The synopsis of the book is a little misleading. Yes, it is a story of family and tradition but the racial injustice angle is not a major issue. It's more like a reflection of the time and location. This novel spans two generation of the Howland family and their history after they settled in Alabama. The synopsis makes it seem that Abigail and the Howlands are mixed-race. They are not all of the Howlands (including Abigail) are white, there is small a branch of the family that is mixed race and their role in the story is not prominent until the end.

    The Keeper of The House starts off the the narrator, Abigail, reflecting on how her and her children ended up where they are. To fully understand the Howland family and the county the helped found. She takes the readers on a journey through her colorful and rich family history. A large portion of the story focuses on her grandfather, William Howland, and how he came to father three children by his mistress, Margaret who is black. The second part of the story is Abigail telling the reader about how her grandfather's past ends up effecting her present and the future of herself, her marriage and her children.

    Grau picked the prefect narrator in Abigail. Her voice was authentic. It was interesting to see how she developed as a person as the time pasted. I just can't say enough about her. I just really liked her and wanted to see how she got to the place in her life she was in when she was introduced in the first chapter. All the characters (good and bad) were well thought out and presented. Now of them were flat. They all had good qualities and bad.

    The Keepers of The House reminded me a lot of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (which I loved). The difference being that The Keeper of The House is a much smaller book, without all the details that Steinbeck's East of Eden had. But they were both tales of family history, how the started, and how they developed.

    *****I received this book from the published in exchange for an honest review***

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    A book about the beginning of the civil rights movement

    abigail is a character caught between old acceptable standards and new fought for standards. she stands behind her convictions and in the end doesn"t give in.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2006

    Old and Gray

    I fell in love with this book as soon as i read the 1rst page. You don t have to be old and gray to understand its intensity.Love It!

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

    Posted April 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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