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Housekeeping (1980)

de Marilynne Robinson

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

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6,4072151,525 (3.93)439
An unabridged audio edition of this classic work on the 25th anniversary of its first publication. 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.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porskyfet, ghneumann, CodyWard, cattermune, JackDean, biblioteca privada, tristeham, Elizasmile, Bensgold_24, keridavis27
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AP Lit (174)
1980s (188)
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A decidedly imperfect childhood is at the center of Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. Ruth, and her sister Lucille, don't have much if anything in way of memories of their father. They are raised by their mother, Helen, until one day she leaves where she's been living and returns to Fingerbone, Idaho, where she was raised by her own single mother (her father died during her childhood when the train on which he worked derailed into the local lake). She arranges her daughters on her mother's porch with a box of crackers and promptly drives her car off a cliff. The girls have some stability with their grandmother for a time, but then she dies. At first, grandma's two sisters-in-law come to take care of the kids, but as longtime spinsters, they're not quite up to the task. So then Sylvie, their aunt, comes to town. And that's when things start to change.

Sylvie is...a drifter, to be polite. She's actually more of a hobo. She likes the girls, loves them in her own way even, but it's hard for her to create a stable home for them. She can't break out of old habits: riding around in train boxcars, falling asleep with her shoes still on in case she needs to be able to move along, hoarding. While Ruth takes after her aunt, Lucille doesn't. As the girls enter the teenage years, Lucille wants normality. She breaks away from the family, and as she talks about what's going on back home, outside interest increases dramatically. This strains things to the breaking point and forces Ruth to make a decision about who she really is and who she really wants to be.

The more I read, the more I boil books down to three essential elements: plot, characters, and writing. A good book has two, a great book has all three. Robinson's writing is lovely, her prose clear and insightful and strong. But the other two legs of this stool aren't really there. Despite being told from Ruth's perspective, we never get much of a sense of who she really is. Her sister, despite being her closest companion, doesn't get much development either apart from wanting a more conventional life. Even Sylvie is elusive, even though you get a better sense of her than you do almost anyone else. As for the plot...despite being a coming-of-age novel, it seems almost more like a failure-to-come-of-age novel. Ruth never really grows or changes. She just...drifts along, like a leaf along a river. A rootless child, she follows her rootless aunt/guardian. Even her break with her sister, what should have been a deeply traumatic experience, feels anticlimatic and muffled, somehow. Since there was quite a long gap between this book, published in the 80s, and Robinson's next work, Gilead, not published until the early 2000s, I'm still interested in reading more of her works. Maybe that long gap helped her develop a better sense of people or plotting? This book, though, isn't quite good enough to recommend. ( )
  ghneumann | Jun 14, 2024 |
Housekeeping is one of the most lyrical and gorgeously written novels I've read. Forty years ago when the book first came out, I read it as a tale of a vagabond woman, or the virtues of wandering, but the tragedy and grief is stronger in my appreciation of the story now. Evocative of the Northern Idaho countryside and Lake Pend Oreille, the location is as much a character as are the orphaned sisters, Ruth and Lucille. Their Aunt Sylvie makes this a story of transience as much as about keeping a house or a soul in place. One of my top favorites. ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
I've read two out of the four Gilead novels. The last one I read, Jack, I didn't like nearly as much as Gilead. So I thought I would try this earlier novel of Robinson's to see if it was her early writing that I liked. This book was more engaging than Jack was but still not up to the standards of Gilead.

The novel's main character is Ruth. She and her sister Lucille were brought to the small town of Fingerbone, on the edge of a largish lake, by their mother. She dropped them off at her mother's house, who wasn't home at the time, and then drove off. A few hours later she drove her car into the lake in what was probably suicide. The lake had also claimed the life of the girls' grandfather when the train on which he was crew went off the bridge across the lake with no survivors. The grandmother looked after the girls up until her death. Then two maiden great-aunts came to take over looking after them. They were completely unused to children and were consumed with nervousness. They contacted the girls' Aunt Sylvie who had been living a nomadic life around the western United States. When she finally turned up the great-aunts lost no time in fleeing the house and the children and the town. At first, Sylvie seemed like a much better choice but as the weeks and months went by, she proved that she had no aptitude for living in one place or looking after two young children. Ruth was quite taken with Sylvie but Lucille finally had enough and went to live with one of her teachers. Ruth and Sylvie kept living in the house but in no sense of the word did they "keep house". When Ruth started skipping school and spending more time with Sylvie, sometimes on the lake in a borrowed rowboat, it was obvious that the end of their living in Fingerbone was coming near. And so, one day, they hopped on a train and took off.

This was quite a sad book what with the child abandonment and failure to provide the necessities of life by all the adults in Ruth's life. Also, the men just seemed to have dropped out of existence which does happen but certainly impacts how children grow up.

I have to say that there were some wonderful passages in this book. Robinson is a fine writer, maybe even a gifted writer, but she will never be a favourite for me. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Apr 7, 2024 |
I previously read Marilynne Robinson's four Gilead novels, and only now this Housekeeping, written 25 years earlier, and that may be the wrong order. I definitely recognized the very controlled, refined writing style; Robinson is a first-class craftswoman who writes heavily charged sentences in a misleadingly poetic upmake. And I also recognized the emphasis on sensorial introspection: just as in the Gilead novels, the main character (here Ruth Foster) constantly alternates between registering her own sensory experiences and reflecting on what that does to her, and on the things she struggles with. Here Robinson approaches what the 19th century naturalists and symbolists did, by focusing on the threat posed by the environment in which this story takes place: the remote, chilly village of Fingerbone (the name alone), on a large lake in Idaho, connected with the outside world by a railway bridge that runs over the water. The tone is set right from the start: Ruth tells how her grandfather died when a train derailed on the bridge, ended up in the lake and was never recovered (and neither the bodies of the passengers within). And less than 20 pages later we read how her own mother committed suicide by driving her car off a cliff into the lake. The 'gothic flavor' of this novel is also emphasized further on, including in an unparalleled nocturnal scene in which the house is half flooded; darkness and obscurity clearly are recurring themes in Robinson.
But the main body of this novel describes how Ruth, together with her sister Lucille, subsequently came under the care of her aunt Sylvie, a confused, chaotic and very dreamy character. Robinson writes quite emphatically: “it was the beginning of Sylvie's housekeeping”, and in doing so she immediately provides us with a key to reading this novel. After all, it is not only about the struggle to keep the house (literally), but also about keeping it 'in order', and by extension also one's own life. Looking back on it, you notice that all the characters in this novel struggle with this: getting a grip on their own lives, curbing the inherent chaos of life and steering it in the right direction, and what you have to give up and sacrifice in doing so, and whether such an orderly life is actually the right choice. And all that aggravated by the struggle with loss, grief, isolation and loneliness, especially as a woman or a girl.
In other words, through Ruth Foster's coming-of-age story, Robinson opens up a reflection on what this life is all about and whether it makes sense to control it. To be clear: she does not give simple, obvious answers, but above all - through Ruth - asks the right questions. And thus there is a link with the Gilead novels, which essentially deal with the same theme, but with a clear, more religious - read Calvinist - slant, in which the question of good and evil, damnation and grace are more central. I think that Robinson definitely shows even more mastery in some of those Gilead novels, both stylistically and substantively, but with this 'Housekeeping' she already showed that her novels are among the best of what has been written in recent decades, worldwide. ( )
  bookomaniac | Mar 15, 2024 |
This was upsetting on many levels. Stories about women who aren't mothers but do have children are the most devastating things on the face of the planet. I also can't help but think about Ada or Ardor re: Lucille, Lucette who wanted more and more and then is left/leaves. And of course, the red hair. When Ruth is left overnight outside in the dark will haunt me for the rest of my life. ( )
  adaorhell | Feb 27, 2024 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Robinson, MarilynneAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Dielemans, WimTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Krupat, CynthiaDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vezzoli, DelfinaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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For my husband,
and for James and Joseph, Jody and Joel,
four wonderful boys
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My name is Ruth.
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Having a sister or a friend is like sitting at night in a lighted house. (p 154)
My grandmother['s]...eyes would roam over the goods she had accumulated unthinkingly and maintained out of habit as eagerly as if she had come to reclaim them. (p. 27)
Sylvie...considered accumulation to be the essence of housekeeping, and because she considered the hoarding of worthless things to be proof of a particularly scrupulous thrift. (p.180)
...fragments of the quotidian held up to our wondering attention, offered somehow as proof of their own significance (p73)
...leaves began to gather in the corners...Sylvie when she swept took care not to molest them. Perhaps she sensed a Delphic niceness in the scattering of these leaves and paper, here and not elsewhere.... (p.84-85)
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An unabridged audio edition of this classic work on the 25th anniversary of its first publication. 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.

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