Housekeeping is one of those books that’s impossible to read quickly. Every sentence is meticulously designed, flawless in execution, exquisite. In fact, the writing is so good that I feel self-conscious even attempting to write about it.
I’ve had the novel on my nightstand for at least a year, walking slowly through its passages. I stopped dog-earing pages long ago, because almost every page contains something I’d like to add to my commonplace book. I’ve had Gilead and Home, Ms. Robinson’s subsequent novels, socked away for ages, but I think I’ll let this one ruminate for awhile before I jump in. (Ms. Robinson is also a noted essayist, and I’m looking forward to reading her essay collections, too.)
Though tragic occurrences populate the novel, it wasn’t the events that made me cry (as they did, in, say, Tell the Wolves I’m Home). As I finished the novel last night, I was moved to tears, not only by the beauty of the language, but also by the portrait of Ruth, the novel’s narrator-protagonist, which is slowly revealed, page by page. She and her family are viscerally real.
I don’t want to say more. Housekeeping deserves a quiet and careful reading, and will reward its reader with a lake’s worth of depth and delight.