Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award
A contemporary classic that "brilliantly portrays the impermanence of all things, especially beauty and happiness" (Paul Gray, Time), Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grew up haphazardly, first under the care of their 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, which is 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."
In this widely praised, gorgeously written novel, Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of both loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
"So precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure it might yield."—The New York Times Book Review
"Here's a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life . . . You can feel in the book a gathering voluptuous release of confidence, a delighted surprise at the unexpected capacities of language, a close, careful fondness for people that we thought only saints felt."—Anatole Broyard, The New York Times
"Extraordinary . . . Robinson uses the language so exquisitely . . . Every sentence is a wonderful sentence, made just right . . . Housekeeping proves that fine fiction is still being written."—Carolyn Banks, The Washington Post Book World
"Robinson's ability to show us the power of unconventional love and the lasting, although invisible, bonds between members of such an eccentric and apparently feckless family makes us smile with pleasure throughout the novel."—The Miami Herald
"Robinson literally seems to stretch her characters with insight she must have stockpiled for years . . . What Ruth says of Sylvie is true of Robinson: 'She undertook the most ordinary things' and 'made them seem . . . remarkable.'"—Suzanne O'Malley, Ms.
"A stunningly moving story about a devastated family . . . Robinson infuses the tale with offbeat humor, but the enduring impact of this book lies in its pervasive understanding of tragedy."—People
"I found myself reading slowly, than more slowly—this is not a novel to be hurried through, for every sentence is a delight."—Doris Lessing
"Housekeeping is a haunting dream of a story told in a language as sharp and clear as light and air and water."—Walker Percy
"The richness and variety and the peculiarity of tone Marilynne Robinson sustains are masterful; I found the characters absorbing and disturbing."—Mary Gordon
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....