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Housekeeping: A Novel Paperback – September 30, 1997
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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.)
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"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
Top customer reviews
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Read it for the extraordinary calm of reading it.
Complex but beautiful prose. One must read slow, especially the long descriptions. Let Marilynne Robinson teach you how to sense the divine in nature.
The story revolves around three generations of women in a single family. There are parts of this novel I really enjoyed very much. It is extremely well written, however it is not always an "easy read". There were some phisophical passages that I really struggled to follow. This is not necessarily a criticism. But as a reviewer, I feel the need to advise a person looking for a relatively simple, enjoyable reading experience, this was not always the case for me.
According to Wikipedia, in 2003 The Guardian Unlimited named "Housekeeping" one of the 100 greatest novels of all time. Years ago I had set upon a quest to read the 100 greatest novels ever written. I found there are many such lists with some, but really little, consensus. I have read hundreds of novels pursuing this quest. With the greatest possible respect to Miss Robinson, this novel does not make my list, although it is a really quality work. It may be simply too sophisticated for me. Thank You...