Author: Marilynne Robinson
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1980
Rating: 4 stars
On Sunday my roommates and I did a little premature spring cleaning and the apartment nearly sparkled. I bleached the bajesus out of our tub! But that’s not what this post is about.
It’s about Housekeeping. The book by Marilynne Robinson (she also wrote Gilead, which is on my list). So, I know I’ve been saying I’d write a post about The Portrait of a Lady and I will; it’s coming. However, I got sucked into reading Housekeeping online–Google likes to tease you with like 15 free Google-book pages and then be like whoops sorry pages 16-150 are not available for your viewing pleasure: stop being cheap/a bum and buy the book! Touche, Google. But joke’s on you because I bought it from Amazon.
Nevertheless, the book is about crazy people in the midwest. Ms. Robinson is a little nicer about it and calls them transients, or drifters both physically and mentally. If you know me at all, you know I have a thing for books about crazy people (I mean…I wrote my thesis on Surfacing).
Anyway, the narrator, Ruth, and her sister are brought up by a few different people (all women) because their mother commits suicide when they are very young. As children the sisters are besties, but when puberty hits, one sister decides that the family is far too weird for her to associate with, and she moves out. I don’t want to give too much away because not a whole lot happens, but long story short Ruth has to learn to fend for herself in a world in which she feels increasingly out of place.
The writing is poetic and dense in some places. The sentence structure is often convoluted, which accentuates the crazies. However, oddly enough, Ruth seems pretty sane and almost hyperaware of her mad appearance. She even wants to be like her clearly loopy aunt, Sylvie. This is sounding eerily like my thesis but…Ruth seems to view the outward world of Housekeeping, traditional families, and normality as crazy.
I definitely recommend this book to everyone, but I think women are more likely to enjoy it/relate to it (arrrg I know I’m reinforcing gender stereotypes by recommending Housekeeping to women).
You can read about Marilynne Robinson here and check out other books by her.