Friday, October 16, 2015

Housekeeping - A Book Review

HousekeepingHousekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reviewing this book is a difficult task. It is a book that many times I wished to toss aside because it is not an easy book to read. Having said that, I can't think of another book with more beautiful prose, nor can I think of an author other than Marilynne Robinson who writes with such brilliant, sparse prose while capturing the essence of the themes about which she writes.

It is a book about families and difficult family relationships and how family stories that impact generations. "Families are a sorrow, and that's the truth." It is about loss. "Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it." It is finding and having connections when on feels cut off and isolated from the rest of the world. "Having a sister or a friend is like sitting at night in a lighted house." It is about identity and isolation.

The setting of the story speaks of such isolation. There seems to be no reason why anyone would be drawn to live in town where the story takes place. The house where the main characters live is perhaps one the most memorable houses I have ever read about. Odd in its location, design, and livability, it mirrors the oddness of those whom have lived there.

Robinson often weaves throughout the story a tale of the great loss that happened when a train derailed and plunged into the lake. The lake is one of the centerpieces of the setting for this book. The shock and grief of that event and the tragedies that followed the train wreck are woven throughout the book. The book is about the deep waters of emotional trauma that the survivors continue to cope as the go about the living out their lives. Each character seems to be alone in a below the surface place of turmoil.

I was relieved, as other readers have said, when I finished the book, but I am also glad I read it. There are so many facets to this book. I will have to re-read it to grasp the depth of it all.

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Midlife Roadtripper said...

Isn't this the one where the daughter lives with the aunt and they end up not conforming to a regular life? Walking away? I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would as I find Marilynne Robinson tests my abilities as a reader and as a thinker. She is incredibly intelligent. Gilead was a lovely book, but I need to re-read (many times) as I'm certain I didn't get it the first read through.

Seems you have done a much better job of understanding Housekeeping than I did.

Jean said...

Sounds intriguing. I must check it out on Amazon. I've just read Humans of New York" for the third time. I love it and want to order the author's newest book. It's uplifting to read of the brave survivors of "The Family of Man."

Rose said...

I admire you for finishing the book. My son loaned me a book recently that he highly recommended, and while it's very well-written, it's also quite depressing. I'm afraid I had to put it aside for awhile; sometimes all you want to do is escape in a book.

DJan said...

I just put the book on hold at the library. I'll have to read it and let you know what I thought of it. I also noticed it was written in 1980.

Arkansas Patti said...

What an interesting review. I admire you for sticking to it and finding it worthy enough for a reread. I will check it out on Amazon.

Barb said...

The book sounds like a bit of medicine that tastes terrible but might be worth it? It seems that lately I can't persevere as I did in the past if a book is just too difficult or requires too much concentration. Maybe my old brain craves entertainment?

Barb said...

Hi Sally, I must have had brain freeze when I wrote my former comment. I wasn't making the connection between the author and her books I've already read - Gilead and Home. I'm wondering if I'd also like Lila? Her newest, which I just looked up on Amazon are essays, The Givenness of Things. That's how I finally made the connection. (It must be old age - it just takes me awhile... sometimes weeks!)