Housekeeping

Housekeeping

by Marilynne Robinson
3.4 58

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Housekeeping 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 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.
Anonymous 8 months ago
No.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
I wanted to love this book, but good grief, rarely have just over 200 pages felt like twice that many. Despite the blurb, I didn't feel that the aunts were comical in the least. There really isn't a plot, or likable characters. There IS beautiful sensory-detail filled writing about the lake, clothing, furniture, and other little details, I guess that's why all the awards. The time period in which this is set is unclear, though clearly, after trains were a thing, but sometime before we stopped calling homeless people hoboes. I also felt that the depiction of homeless people was considerably glamorized... They're not depicted as hungry, cold, dirty, afraid, brutalized (by police and each other), or mentally ill, they're drifting and transient BY CHOICE. Really? This was a selection by my book club, and I was hoping to the end that the narrator, Ruthie, would show some gumption and DO something. Lucille did, but then she moved "off-camera," as it were. I prefer books where the main character learns, grows, and changes. Didn't get that here, Ruthie just drifted through childhood to adulthood and beyond.
Kimby1103 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book bored me to tears! The only reason I gave it one star is because the description of the story did manage to lure me in. However, upon beginning the book, I couldn't stay focused. Mainly because it read like very long and overly drawn out poetry,and I've never been a fan of poetry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
marilynne robinson's writing is beautiful, as is the story.