2008: 56. Housekeeping

“My name is Ruth.  I grew up with my younger sister Lucille, under the care of my grandmother, Mrs. Sylvia Foster, and when she died, of her sisters-in-law, Misses Lily and Nona Foster, and when they fled, of her daughter, Mrs. Sylvia Foster.”

Housekeeping, Marianne Robinson

This book has been hailed as a masterpiece, and I understand why, but I was somewhat disappointed in it.  The reason is that I so loved Robinson’s Gilead - in fact, it was one of the best books I read last year - perhaps one of the best books I’ve ever read.  This book is so different - cold and strange where Gilead  was the warmest, most heartfelt book I’ve read.  This book concerns two girls who live on the coast of a lake in an isolated Western town (either in eastern Washington or western Idaho), where years before their grandfather died in a tragic train accident (the whole train drove into the lake).  Their grandmother, mother and aunts grow up alone, and strange, and later, after their mother drives into the self same lake, the girls grow up first with their grandmother, than two great aunts, and finally their hobo aunt who returns to take care of them.  The family is strange, isolated, and the whole town is strange and sad, and the girls grow up wild and alone.  It’s written so well, and the characters seem real, but the book is sad and lonely, and so I appreciate it but can’t love it, not like I loved Gilead.  Maybe if I’d read them in the other order, I’d like it more - but then, maybe if I read them in the other order I wouldn’t have read Gilead, so I can’t complain.


Date/Place Completed: 4/9/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017