Housekeeping: A Novel

by Marilynne Robinson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0312424094 Global Overview for this book
Registered by dvg of Toms River, New Jersey USA on 4/22/2009
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by dvg from Toms River, New Jersey USA on Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Found this duplicate copy on my bookshelf! So I am copying my other JE and making it available. =)

Back cover indicates that this is: Winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award.

Perhaps I was not in the mood to read this type book. I know it has received high reviews from newspapers, magazines, friends and bookcrossers but I did not find it to be an amazing book. It is certainly well written but I just was not that into this book. I found it to be sad. But that is my opinion only.

I am looking forward to reading the JEs on this book to try and gain a better perspective on it. Sometimes, you need to hear what others think to be enlightened. So BCers ~ please enlighten me!

Journal Entry 2 by dvg at on Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Released 13 yrs ago (5/6/2009 UTC) at

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Sending a surprise RABCK to dg7500.

While its not on your wishlist, it is a popular book and I am absolutely interested in reading your JE on the book. I hope you enjoy.

Journal Entry 3 by wingdg7500wing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania USA on Monday, May 11, 2009
What a lovely surprise...Thanks for thinking of me, dvg! Hope you won't mind if this one goes on MtTBR for a bit, as I've got quite a few others I should tackle first.

9/1/09 Update: Just starting to read this one, and will make update notes once finished.

9/2/09 Update: Well, I feel like I gave it a fair chance (I read through chapter five: 75 pages, which is a bit more than 1/3 of the book), and this book just wasn't for me. Of what I read, the storyline was simplistic, but the language was verbose & over the top. The author does have a beautiful writing style, which I enjoyed, but it seemed to me that she was trying to 'pad the story' with all the poetic language. I may try reading something else by this author in the future, but this one just wasn't 'my cup of tea'.

I saw this on a wishlist, and will be passing it along with a bookring & a few other wishes in a just few days. Thanks again, for sharing it with me, dvg!

Journal Entry 4 by wingdg7500wing at RABCK, A RABCK -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Released 13 yrs ago (9/1/2009 UTC) at RABCK, A RABCK -- Controlled Releases

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A wishlist rabck to valpete. Enjoy, my friend!

*2009 RABCK Release Challenge*
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To the finder of this book:

What you have in your hands is an honest-to-goodness gift, no strings attached. You may keep it forever and ever, pass it on to a friend, or release it back "into the wild" for someone else to find. I know it may seem a little odd to find this lying around--it's my way of touching the lives of others in a positive way, with the hope that it made your day. :)

If you are new to BookCrossing, and find this book and this site, welcome! Enjoy the site, the book, and hopefully the BookCrossing community. I hope you'll join BookCrossing (doesn't cost anything to join!) and if you do, please consider using any previous reader of this book ... or me, dg7500 ... as the member who referred you. Or you may remain anonymous!

If you are an old hand at BookCrossing, thanks for picking up the book! Either way, I hope you'll make a brief journal entry so all the previous and future readers can track this book's journey. Thanks, and Happy Crossing! :)

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens ..."

Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind)

Journal Entry 5 by valpete from Walnut Creek, California USA on Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I'm overwhelmed with your generosity. So many books that I've been wanting to read. I hope I live long enough to get to them all! Thanks so very much!

Journal Entry 6 by valpete from Walnut Creek, California USA on Saturday, May 1, 2010
It's time to move this along to another BCer with this on her Wishlist. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 7 by valpete at Walnut Creek, California USA on Saturday, May 1, 2010

Released 12 yrs ago (5/3/2010 UTC) at Walnut Creek, California USA

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Enjoy!

Journal Entry 8 by glade1 from McLeansville, North Carolina USA on Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Received in the mail a couple of days ago. Thanks, valpete! I appreciate your generosity. Will put this on the TBR shelf and hope to get to it soon.

ETA 8-24-12: This will go to Dove-i-libri in the Wish List Tag game as soon as I get it read.

Journal Entry 9 by glade1 at McLeansville, North Carolina USA on Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Housekeeping is the story of two sisters whose mother commits suicide and who are subsequently raised by a series of female relatives. As they grow up, they grow apart, with the younger sister working hard to fit in to "normal" society, and the older sister becoming more like their eccentric, transient aunt. The story appears to be about hopelessness and escape, a lack of purpose and meaning, and a longing for freedom. But I don't sense much cohesiveness in the direction of the narrator's thoughts; I can only dimly understand how Ruthie (the older sister) and Sylvie (the aunt) allow themselves to fall into their predicament and I am stunned by their solution.

A reader can tell that the author spent a great deal of time and effort crafting this book. It has moments of beauty and plenty of long, ethereal, metaphorical passages. And yet it is not a book I found to be wonderful. I think the heart of the problem is that I did not feel any kinship with the narrator. I have always been someone who longs for stability and belonging and the comforts of home, so I do not identify with a character who is at heart a transient.

Also, in spite of the many beautiful descriptions of locations, the author chooses not to overtly reveal many of the narrator's thoughts or feelings, or those of any other characters, so the reader is left to guess at motivations and desires. We are given a series of events and expected to understand how the players feel about them. Since I do not immediately empathize with the characters, and there is no clear description of their emotions or reasons, I was in quite a muddle as to the meaning of the story.

Overall, it felt a bit like the author was trying too hard to make a deep, beautiful book. Sometimes she succeeds in creating depth and beauty but other times the story falls flat. Some passages that I found interesting:

It seemed to me that what perished need not also be lost. At Sylvie's house, my grandmother's house, so much of what I remembered I could hold in my hand--like a china cup, or a windfall apple, sour and cold from its affinity with deep eath, with only a trace of the perfume of its blossoming. Sylvie, I knew, felt the life of perished things.

...For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it?

...If I could see my mother, it would not have to be her eyes, her hair. I would not need to touch her sleeve. There was no more the stoop of her high shoulders. The lake had taken that, I knew. It was so very long since the dark had swum her hair, and there was nothing more to dream of, but often she almost slipped through any door I saw from the side of my eye, and it was she, and not changed, and not perished. She was a music I no longer heard, that rang in my mind, itself and nothing else, lost to all sense, but not perished, not perished.

...If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation. I expected--an arrival, an explanation, an apology. There had never been one, a fact I could have accepted, were it not true that, just when I had got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hid in its shadows. That most moments were substantially the same did not detract at all from the possibility that the next moment might be utterly different. And so the ordinary demanded unblinking attention. Any tedious hour might be the last of its kind.

...My mother was happy that day, we did not know why. And if she was sad the next, we did not know why. And if she was gone the next, we did not know why. It was as if she righted herself continually against some current that never ceased to pull. She swayed continuously, like a thing in water, and it was graceful, a slow dance, a sad and heady dance.


All of these are beautiful, thought-provoking passages, yet some of them seem to contradict the narrator's general line of thought, and some might be proven inherently untrue. This is my problem with the entire book. Individual parts and events can be beautiful but taken together they do not seem to form a satisfying, cohesive story.

This is not a long book and it can be enjoyable, but I do not feel it is a "great" novel. This author has potential; I just do not believe she reached it with this book.

Reserved for Dove-i-libri in the Wish List Tag game. I'll mail it out when I have finished the two others I've promised to her.

Journal Entry 10 by glade1 at Greensboro, North Carolina USA on Thursday, September 20, 2012

Released 10 yrs ago (9/20/2012 UTC) at Greensboro, North Carolina USA

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Sent via media mail today to Dove-i-libri as part of the Wish List Tag game. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 11 by wingDove-i-Libriwing at Fort Myers, Florida USA on Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I received this book as a result of being tagged at the US-Canada Wish List "Tag" Game! (Link)

THANK YOU, Glade1 for sending this to me. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to read it (Large Mount TBR,) but I'll make sure to make a journal entry! Thanks again!

July 31, 2022: Short list!

Aug 13, 2022: Started reading this today. Hope I finish it in time to release for participation in the One-Word-Title challenge.

Aug 18, 2022: Waaaaay too much description and introspection for me. But, I stuck it out until the rather predictable ending... Ready for release!

Released as part of Booklady331's KTM Challenge (Link) and as part of Booklady331's AUGUST 2022 "ONE WORD TITLE" Challenge

☺ Happy Traveling, Book! ☺

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