Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson


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.


Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, is a powerful novel for its look inside the emotions, thoughts and dreams of young Ruth, in whose voice the story is told. It is a solemn tale, yet whimsical in its details. It is uniquely descriptive with unusual depth into the outer surroundings as well as the inner facets of its characters. It is fiction; however, in my own assessment, much of it must have been truthfully experienced in order to have been written because it contains an on-going element of incipiency totally unnatural to novels, which for the most part rise and fall with a smoothness of waves in creation. Robinson’s scenes are vivid—mostly depictions of winter and dimness, with every minute component seen and unseen in these conditions. Somewhat down-played in the plot is the magnitude of sacrifice Ruth’s aunt is willing to make to change the very fiber of her own being in order keep Ruth with her, but this makes sense because the story is told from Ruth’s perspective, whose awareness was muted to some extent by her internal struggles.

I did not closely identify with Robinson’s characters, but found them to be extremely interesting in their differences from myself. I consider this a well-written and remarkable book, and I highly recommend it.

Length:  219 Pages
Print:  $15.00
Digital:  $9.99

Thanks for visiting. Rose & Rochelle

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