Housekeeping

By Marilynne Robinson,

Book cover of Housekeeping

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Housekeeping as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Housekeeping is actually not my favorite Marilynne Robinson novel, but because most of her later work, including Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize and is my favorite, all take place in Iowa, where Robinson eventually settled down, I chose Housekeeping, because it takes place where she grew up, in Idaho, but also because I could actually choose any of her novels, which are all outstanding. Robinson has become one of the more distinguished writers in America, and she is a master of language and development of rich and complicated characters. Her books also have a delightful touch of…

From Russell's list on by women writers in the west.

The first time I read Housekeeping, as soon as I finished I went back to the beginning and read it again. I wanted to keep it by me; Robinson’s beautiful prose is captivating: fluent and lyrical, yet spare. A haunting story of two sisters and their strange upbringing in Fingerbone (the town and lake of Fingerbone are characters too), Housekeeping deals with what psychologists now call ‘generational trauma’. But it does more than that: it captures an elusive, layered, childhood experience of loneliness that amounts to something spiritual and transformative. Yes, it’s sad. But above all it’s beautiful; I…

Set on a fictionalized version of Lake Pend Oreille, in my current home state of Idaho, this is a poetic, beautiful story of two sisters, and Robinson’s writing is liquid and clear and rippled as the lake. The train that crosses the lake on a long track is a central part of the book, and the first time I saw the train bridge, after I moved to Idaho, I went running out toward the water yelling “there it is!! The train across Fingerbone!” I love when a book becomes a part of a place so powerfully that it seems as…

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