by Sukey HowardOctober, 2005
A modern classic
Marilynne Robinson's second novel Gilead won this year's Pulitzer Prize, and that fortunately lead to a rekindling of interest in her first, Housekeeping. Published in 1982 to much acclaim, it's now available on audio, read by Becket Royce with the sad lyricism the text demands. This is not an easy book, and I mean that as praise. Ruth and her sister, Lucille, were abandoned by their mother, first to a reclusive grandmother, then to inept grand-aunts and finally to Sylvie, their mother's younger sister. Sylvie cares little for society's norms, driving Lucille to rigid conformity and drawing Ruth into her world where transience is as permanent as imagination is illusory. Listen carefully as Ruth conjures up this odd girlhood and seamlessly weaves it into a meditation on the persistence and insistence of memory. Give it a go, you'll be well rewarded.