April’s Book: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Marilynne Robinson explores themes of love, loneliness, and survival in her debut novel Housekeeping. Published in 1980, it tells the story of Ruth and Lucille, two sisters growing up with only each for emotional support as they live with various relations in a remote town in the Far West.

Share your thoughts and comments below to join the conversation and watch a video of Marilynne Robinson discussing her favorite authors, writing habits and more!


Marilynne Robinson

Comments [13]

Greg Caulfield from new york,NY

I wright a children book on Hiking the Appalachian Trail .
it is story about educating kids about the trail.
sow i get what the auther is saying remote area of are county.

Nov. 20 2012 01:59 PM
Barbara Grant

I too usually speed through novels but
this story requires me to slow my pace.
I like to compare Marilyn Robinson
to Michael Ondaatje-wonderful images
to imagine and savor.

Jul. 30 2012 04:38 PM

I agree with Richard from New York, however, there are some very interesting images in Housekeeping. I see pairs. There is the lake, and the mountains. The lake as a monster that swallows a whole train. the train and the caboose; Grandparents=a pair; three daughters - one is gone to China, hence a 'pair of' daughters; each having had a elusive husband. Helen has a 'pair of' daughters, Ruthie and Lucille.
Ruthie pairs with Sylvie, her sister Lucille pairs with her school peers.
The lake has various moods. It is calm inviting; it is turbulent, reflective and stormy, dependable., dangerous. sylvie, as well, is unpredictable.
Lucille steady like the cold freezing mountains, yet deep down she could be warm.
Helen and lucille both determined and strong minded, one succeeds in dying the in living.

Apr. 06 2012 02:15 PM

This was a work of genius in everyway.. so glad it was chosen this month. It was interesting that the grandfather foreshadowed a the wanderlust and unearthliness we later see in his daughter and granddaughter.

Apr. 05 2012 05:27 PM
Eileen Gunning from Wingdale NY

I usually read through a novel at fairly great speed. "Housekeeping" has such exquisite metaphors, that I found that I spent an incredible amount of time re- re-reading and trying to absorb the musical, magical, lyrical words that tend to float off the page, whirling their meanings through a kind of veil which I wanted to penetrate and understand.

I was so disappointed when my Internet went out due to s wind storm, and I couldn't hear this interview until today! I loved hearing about her way of writing.

Amazing that a novel from 32 years ago (which i never heard of!) has such incredible power

Apr. 05 2012 03:14 PM

I loved Housekeeping. It's one of my favorite books ever. I didn't know a movie had been made.

Apr. 05 2012 02:34 PM
Michelle Botticelli

How did this book come back into fashion after 32 years-

Apr. 05 2012 12:51 PM
Erin from Sarah Lawrence College

Question for Marilynne: Your imagery is so remarkably fresh. In your writing process, does the language come to you fully formed or do you have to tinker endlessly to get the right valence?

Apr. 05 2012 12:39 PM
Richard from New York

I remember when someone in my writing group said I "must" read this book.

Sorry to say, it was torturous; almost made me read Henry James just for something breezy.

Apr. 05 2012 12:38 PM
Paulette from Greenwich Village

The most extraordinarily beautiful book. Every paragraph made me want to stop and think about it. I also love Gilead and Home. So much is about home and family.

Apr. 05 2012 12:38 PM
Paul Power from Union, NJ

To begin with I am a slow reader but, as I plunged into the book, I knew this would be a very slow read as I took the time to enjoy the beauty of the language - the detailed descriptions of the settings, the characters and events. I loved the blending of reminiscences of the past with visions of the future, the inescapable bond of family, and they way she explicated how individuals are more in our life after they are gone (in one way or another). Loved it!

Apr. 03 2012 07:00 PM
Andrew Campbell from Mahopac, NY

As a movie, this is one of my all time favorites--so complex (rich), so poignant! ('Haven't read the book.)

Mar. 28 2012 08:10 AM

I heard such great comments about the book. Can't wait to read and then discuss with you all,

Mar. 22 2012 02:22 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.