Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award, Housekeeping
is a beautiful, lonely novel that transcribes the story of Ruth and Lucille-sisters orphaned and initiated into a desultory series of upbringings, first with their grandmother, then their bumbling great-aunts, and finally their mother's sister, Sylvie, an eccentric transient. As their childhood gives way to the self-consciousness of adolescence, Robinson draws upon her story's landscape-a glacial lake in the upper northwest-to flesh out the difficult themes of loss, impermanence, and survival. This book reads 'slow as poetry' (to quote an able reviewer) and, for all its difficult loveliness, stuns you with its distilled and haunting lyricism. 219 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
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.