Housekeeping: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
$10.10
Qty:1
  • List Price: $15.00
  • Save: $4.90 (33%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In stock on October 26, 2014.
Order it now.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Housekeeping: A Novel has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Housekeeping: A Novel Paperback – October 14, 2004


See all 41 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$10.10
$5.37 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$65.00


Frequently Bought Together

Housekeeping: A Novel + Gilead: A Novel + Home: A Novel
Price for all three: $28.73

Some of these items ship sooner than the others.

Buy the selected items together
  • Gilead: A Novel $9.29
  • Home: A Novel $9.34

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (October 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312424094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312424091
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Their lives spun off the tilting world like thread off a spindle," says Ruthie, the novel's narrator. The same may be said of Becket Royce's subtle, low-keyed reading. The interwoven themes of loss and love, longing and loneliness—"the wanting never subsided"—require a cool, almost impersonal touch. Royce narrates natural and manmade catastrophe and ruin as the author offers them: with a sort of watery vagueness engulfing extraordinary events. Occasionally this leads Royce to sound sleepy or to glide over humor. But she expresses Ruthie's story without any irksome effort to sound childlike, and she avoids the pitfall of dramatizing other characters, such as the awkward sheriff, the whispery insubstantiality of Aunt Sylvie or the ladies bearing casseroles to lure Ruthie away from Aunt Sylvie and into their concept of normality. Originally published in 1980 and filmed in 1987, Housekeeping is finally on audio because of Robinson's new Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gilead. The novel holds up remarkably and painfully well, and the language remains searching and sonorous. Anatole Broyard wrote back then: "Here is a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life...." And because the author's rhythms, images and diction are so original and dense, this audio is a treasure for listeners who have or haven't read the book. Based on the Picador paperback. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"So precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure it might yield."—Le Anne Schreiber, The New York Times Book Review

"Here's a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life...You can feel in the book a gathering voluptuous release of confidence, a delighted surprise at the unexpected capacities of language, a close, careful fondness for people that we thought only saints felt."—Anatole Broyard, The New York Times

"I found myself reading slowly, than more slowly—this is not a novel to be hurried through, for every sentence is a delight."—Doris Lessing

More About the Author

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the bestselling novels Home, Gilead (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), Housekeeping, and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Customer Reviews

By the time I read the first 50 pages I decided not to finish this book, which is very unusual for me.
JoyousAndFree
HOUSEKEEPING is a very difficult book to read, but at the same time, I was drawn to it for the beautiful writing and the complexity of the characters.
Ratmammy
I don't know what it is about this book but I don't care about the characters and the writing seems to drag along without much interest for me.
Rhonda Carpenter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Debbie the Book Devourer on February 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book revolves around two sisters, Ruthie and Lucille, told from Ruthie's point of view. After their mother abandons them on their grandmother's doorstep, they are raised by the grandmother, then by her two sisters-in-law, and finally by their Aunt Sylvie, who always seems about to join up with her mind, which is always somewhere else.

The plot of the book is hardly the point, however. The words are. Reading this book was like looking at an impressionist painting or living inside someone's dream or reading her mind. Words and sentences on their own don't seem to make much sense, but in the context of the larger work, they swirl to form feelings, images, dreams, fears, and thoughts, bouncing from one to another to form a narrative whole. The resulting picture is utterly stunning, dripping with metaphor and stacked in layers.

This is one of the most skillfully written books I've ever read. Aside from a couple passages I found hard to get through, the book captivated me completely from beginning to end. Read it slowly to enjoy every word.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
254 of 269 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am somewhat amused by the clear split between the reviews posted here: either the readers loved it or absolutely despised it. There is very little middle ground. This book is clearly difficult - I'm an avid reader, hold a degree in Comparative Literature and am an English teacher and I found myself reaching for the dictionary often. This is not a book to take lightly. It is not a novel that should be read as a simple fiction. This novel requires a lot of mental involvement and you will be exposed to different ideas, ideas that many people seem to find off-putting. It is so well written that you could, if you wished, fly through it quickly but I don't recommend it. Slow down and savor the words and phrasing and analyze the characters. This book is about a family trying to survive and cope with death and permanence. It is a slice of the darker side of life that most people wish to ignore. Yes, it's painful at times but most lessons tend to be so. It's a book about survival and trying to find a place in society; or whether you want to be a part of that society or not.

Housekeeping is not light entertainment. You will have to work and study it but it is so beautifully written that it is a joy. Settle down with your dictionary and enjoy it. I know I did.
9 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
137 of 143 people found the following review helpful By csk on September 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is certainly one of the most well written books in English published in the second half of the 20th century. Robinson has only written this novel, but unlike many first published novels, esp. by American women writers in the past few decades, Robinson has written a mature, flawless piece of fiction that never collapses into a confessional narrative; she doesn't fall prey to the hypersensitive, victimized "I." Her story is straightforward enough--a simple plot, very American, of repetition and distillation from one generation to another--two sisters, two sisters, two sisters. It is her language that is remarkable--there are passages so lyrical, yet tolerably lyrical, that I dare you to read them without feeling movement within yourself--the frozen sea shift about. My father read it, and said to me that it was "too sad, nearly unbearably sad." But it is only sad because it is so resonant--it conjures living using language in a way that persuades the reader to be present in the world, with its smells, noises, textures, shadows, tastes. A brilliant, nearly perfect novel.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after listening to a program about it on NPR's Diane Rehm Show. I fully agree with the radio commentators on the quality of Robinson's writing and the richness of her imagery. As urged by Doris Lessing (in a review quoted on the jacket), I read this slowly and then more slowly, and will probably return to it again, but unlike several other readers I did not find it heavy going, for its essence does not lie in its plot but in the enfolding and refolding of its thoughts.

A difficult book to understand? Yes surely. But very unusually in my experience, the jacket blurb includes a phrase which provides the perfect key to reading this book: "the dangerous and deep undertow of transience." It is, in fact, a meditation on impermanence, and it operates on a plane of recurrent and beautifully crafted imagery whose overall effect is almost surreal and certainly spiritual. The facts of this particular story are unimportant compared to the sense that everything we have and are in this world, and all the "housekeeping" we frantically undertake to keep hold of it, are temporary at best. I have certainly felt this myself, and I am not depressed but consoled to know that others understand this too.

Robinson's beautiful writing does have another side to it, however. Unlike other books about childhood, this one is narrated in a voice of exquisite sophistication. But the authorial voice does not square with what we know of the education and later life of the heroine, giving a self-conscious air to its artifice, despite the manifest poetic talent of the writer. Read as a sustained prose poem, however, the book is nothing less than superb, a minor masterpiece.

[Thinking again about this book a year after reading it, I also recognize that, although the details of its plot may vanish, it is one of those rare novels whose atmosphere and message grow and deepen in the memory, long after one has laid it down.]
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?