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Housekeeping Audible – Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone, set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere". Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
©1980 Marilynne Robinson; (P)2005 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 31 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Release Date: August 12, 2005
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000AWGX22
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

200 of 202 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.
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318 of 335 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Stoldt 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.
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118 of 121 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.]
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168 of 176 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.
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