Book - 2005 | Paperback edition.
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THIS HIGHLY ACCLAIMED and award-winning novel is the story of two orphans: Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, growing up haphazardly under the care of various bumbling relatives. The two girls finally end up in a small town nestled next to a glacial lake in Idaho, under the guardianship of Sylvie, their odd and rather remote aunt. Ruth's and Lucille's struggle to define themselves as women beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous undertow of transience. Written in Robinson's vibrantly poetic prose, Housekeeping reaches the orphan in all of us and transforms everyday life into a sacred experience.

"Brilliantly portrays the impermanence of all things, especially beauty and happiness." Time

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

"Extraordinary.... Marilynne Robinson uses language so exquisitely.... Every sentence [is]made just right.... Housekeeping proves that fine fiction is still being written."
The Washington Post Book World

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

Publisher: Toronto : Harper Perennial, [2005]
Edition: Paperback edition.
Copyright Date: ©1980
ISBN: 9780006393740
Branch Call Number: FIC Robin
Characteristics: 219 pages ; 21 cm


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RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

With the success of Marilynne Robinson’s remarkable Pulitzer-winning novel Gilead in 2005, few people remembered that her first novel appeared twenty-five years earlier with similar accolades. Housekeeping was published in 1980 to great critical reception, resulting in a PEN/Faulkner Award. Her first novel examines the ordinariness of life and how to elevate it to the extraordinary by making it something holy, sacred, and beautiful. Taking place in the small Northwestern town of Fingerbone, the story traces several generations of women in one family and examines how they encounter obstacles and how they endure them. The elements of water, air, ice, wind, and snow recur throughout the story and lend symbolism to the lives of the family. In addition, Robinson’s luminous prose is always a delight to read.

Mar 25, 2018

Don't worry about the story, just read it for the amazing prose

Jul 11, 2017

Great book

Oct 10, 2016

Riveting - do read in a heat wave as it's a cold and wet setting that can chill you to the bone - emotionally and physically!

Oct 28, 2015

The writing in this is stunning, but too over-the-top. It's relentless, even when stunning description is not needed, and it gets in the way of character development and story telling. And the tone is so dreary and sad. I know this is greatly praised by people who are qualified to praise good writing, but I was not sorry to have the book end.

Sep 21, 2015

If I hadn't already read "Gilead," "Home," and "Lila," I'd probably have given this book five stars. But having read them all first, and going back to Robinson's first novel, it's easy to see that it IS her first novel. The promise is obviously there, the fluid writing, the wrestling with important themes. But her later books show so much more maturity as a writer. Even so, I enjoyed this immensely, for its range of vision and emotion, and its ability to make human odd and twisted characters.

Aug 27, 2015

I think you are going to either love this book or rate it, as I did, as a bit above average only because the writing itself is so evocative. There is little 'housekeeping' in the usual sense in this book. In fact the majority of the story takes place when the house is definitely the last thing on the characters' minds. Two girls, Ruthie and her younger sister Lucille, are orphaned when their mother commits suicide, and left with a grandmother who does housekeeping but is distant with them. Next a couple of maiden great-aunts who know nothing about children take over. Finally their mother's eccentric sister, Sylvie, arrives. Now we literally start wading through themes - loneliness and aloneness, belonging, not belonging, death, loss, and water, water everywhere and seemingly nothing to slake the thirst of the soul. Quite a tough read but thankfully not too long. If you can handle the subject matter, you will probably like the images and writery prose found on almost every page.

Nov 12, 2014

she weaves a beautiful story with very memorable imagery.

Feb 02, 2014

Marilynne Robinson's debut novel, which the NYT called one of the best novels of the past 3 decades. I prefer her second, the Pulitzer prize winning "Gilead." This reminded me a bit of Willa Cather's books, especially "O Pioneers" and "My Antonia."

Oct 31, 2013

Simply put: Marilynne Robinson is a genius, and I would do just about anything to be able to put a sentence together the way she does.

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