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. Sylvia Fisher. Through all these generations we lived in one house, my grandmother’s house…

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

One disjointed family; one old house; one vast, still lake with a railway track running over it. This is the scene for a tale of loss, lonliness and transience.

‘A haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light’ is what the Observer had to say of the novel. For my part, whilst I would agree that much of the prose is indeed haunting and poetic, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by this novel overall. It is good – clearly written by an author of real ability – however, as my expectations were so high, I did find that I was always half expecting something ‘more’ to happen or be revealed to me as I read this. However, this comment may be more a reflection on me than on the novel itself. After all, subtlety is the name of the game here (as in Gilead) and I would not be at all surprised if I find that Ruthie and the environs of her young life do not linger on in my head for years to come.

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