Housekeeping by Marilynne RobinsonHousekeeping by Marilynne Robinson


byMarilynne Robinson

Paperback | July 19, 2004

Pricing and Purchase Info

$12.67 online 
$16.99 list price save 25%
Earn 63 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


THIS HIGHLY ACCLAIMED and award-winning novel is the story of two orphans: Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, growing up haphazardly under the care of various bumbling relatives. The two girls finally end up in a small town nestled next to a glacial lake in Idaho, under the guardianship of Sylvie, their odd and rather remote aunt. Ruth's and Lucille's struggle to define themselves as women beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous undertow of transience. Written in Robinson's vibrantly poetic prose, Housekeeping reaches the orphan in all of us and transforms everyday life into a sacred experience. 

"Brilliantly portrays the impermanence of all things, especially beauty and happiness." Time

"So precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure it might yield."The New York Times Book Review

"Extraordinary.... Marilynne Robinson uses language so exquisitely.... Every sentence [is]made just right.... Housekeeping proves that fine fiction is still being written."
The Washington Post Book World

"I found myself reading slowly, then more slowly-this is not a novel to be hurried through, for every sentence is a delight." Doris Lessing

MARILYNNE ROBINSON is the author of the modern classic Housekeeping,winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, and two books of non-fiction, Mother Countryand The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’Workshop.
Title:HousekeepingFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:224 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.56 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.31 × 0.56 inPublished:July 19, 2004Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0006393748

ISBN - 13:9780006393740


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved It A New York Times quote says, "So precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one does not want to miss any pleasure it might yield". That is the perfect description of this novel. It is a ode to living outside the box, to nonconformity, to transcending the everyday and to making domesticity serve you instead of the other way around. This novel beautifully depicts family relations with all of its flaws and nuances. How love can look different to those on the outside and how love, no matter how flawed feels on the inside.
Date published: 2018-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Stunning Conclusion! I cried. Several times. How could I not? Sandra Gulland has done her research and her staying true as possible to history only makes the tragedy of the story more poignant. How could we not feel Josephine's pain, watching her agonize over her position and her inability to give Napoleon a much needed heir, and the relentless abuse she endured from her in-laws. How could one not grimace as Napoleon and Josephine, still deeply in love despite years of marriage and many affairs on Napoleon's part, are finally and inevitably torn apart by reasons of state, of all things, after surviving everything that would have crippled any other marriage. And how could one not cringe realizing that the whole sacrifice was in vain, that a Habsburg wife and a male heir were still not enough to protect the empire and Napoleon. After that it's just one unhappy event after another, culminating in an ending and an epilogue that assure us that all the divorces, all the years of separation, and miles of distance could not erase Napoleon and Josephine from each others hearts, any more than they could erase them from ours. I am supremely excited to read Gulland's next book, The Game of Hope, which will give us 15-year old Hortense's perspective on the story. I loved Hortense's character in the trilogy and I doubt this next book will let us down, not to mention how refreshing it will be to get another peek at Napoleon and Josephine, not yet burdened by Empire and still very much at the height of their marriage.
Date published: 2017-11-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read A great novel with excellent prose!
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Grey everything, but lovely A wonderful book. The writing is beautiful, and the the story unique. Yet the base struggles of conforming to what a society dictates are relatable for all of us. The classic American hints of transcendentalism, nonconformism, and domesticity meld well with the growth and loss that the characters go through.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wear a sweater This book is cold. It is sometimes wet. There are old newspapers blowing around, and piles of wet and decomposing leaves all over the place. So make yourself a cup of tea and wait for a cloudy day to read this book, because it is not a cheerful, whistling kind of book. I did not enjoy the story, because it deals with the sad and dark states of the human mind. I gave it a 'four' because the writing itself is beautiful, with a grand evocative use of words which are satisfying to read even as the plot is not.
Date published: 2010-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Last Great Dance on Earth, The Last Great Dance on Earth, by Sandra Gulland (Third book of the Jospehine B. Trilogy) ...Josephine and Bonaparte have just gotten married... I'm often asked if it’s possible to read this book without having read the previous two. First of all, the three volumes in the trilogy are a continuation of eachother. So, in order to appreciate the story in full, you need to read all three. Josephine's life takes such dramatic turns that it almost seems as though she lived three lives in one. Almost like three powerful novels culminating in The Last Great Dance on Earth. This one, I felt, was truly a touching and emotional read. As the first two, the third volume is also written in diary form. In this book however, Sandra Gulland, develops the memoirs even further, without ever altering them. For me, this brought Josephine to life, closer than imaginable. From the beginning of this book, Gulland lures the reader further and further in, until you become totally captivated by Josephine’s life. It was impossible not to befriend Josephine. Her letters called out to me and I often thought myself to be her priveleged confidante. Gulland skilfully captures our emotions throughout these letters. This can be seen in: Josephine’s unsuccessful and painful ordeals to have Napoleon’s baby; Bonaparte’s family’s disdain for her as well as their scheming plans to rid themselves of her; Josephine’s loneliness; Her pain and humiliation while enduring Bonaparte’s affairs; Her resilience, sacrifice and surrender for the name of love and a greater purpose…and more. I was able to feel Josephine’s emotions throughout the book. At certain points, I even became angry at her for accepting Napoleon’s affairs; but this didn’t last for long. Despite my views, somehow, I made exceptions for Josephine. I understood her reasons and also came to accept them. She understood Napoleon’s greater purpose and all that it entailed. She understood that he was a man like no other, “Je le veux”- and he conquered. Her voice, feelings and motives came through clearly throughout this historical novel. Very often, I become teary-eyed when reading about the lives of historical figures- but with Josephine, I caught myself sobbing…several times (as though I’d learned about this for the first time). Josephine’s love, tenderness, understanding and total devotion to Napoleon, her man, came first, above all else. Besides her great love for Napoleon, Josephine’s tremendous love for her children is constant throughout the book. The detail in portraying Josephine as a caring and encouraging mother who stood by her children in their every decision, made her all the more endearing to me. The way Josephine cared for Hortense through her painful family tragedy and marital problems - Her willingness to take care of her grandchildren when Hortense needed her most- her children could always depend on her to be there. Eugene and Hortense’s letters to her are filled with caring words that reveal love and concern. There is a clear sense of their close and loving relationship in the way they all interact with eachother. They are together and united in every decision, regardless of their own personal feelings; the Divorce being a perfect example of this, as well as, their unity in accepting and welcoming Bonaparte’s decision to marry Marie Louise. These unbelievably difficult situations which must have required an enormous sense of loyalty, love and acceptance, continuously surface the story to emphasize the passionate life that Josephine lived. And in the end, Eugene’s touching letter announcing the death of his beloved mother to Bonaparte, addressed: Sire, Emperor (Papa), completely moved me to tears. I know it’s history, and I’ve read this all before; Even so, The Last Great Dance on Earth is now forever sealed within my heart. Up until her death, Josephine only wanted what was best for her Bonaparte, the man who “had inspired her to believe once again in heroes, in destiny, but above all in the miracle of love”. p.4 Passionate times, beautiful details, sorrowful moments, love beyond boundaries- Bringing history to life, The Last Great Dance on Earth is an exceptional book.
Date published: 2009-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History to life This was an absolutely amazing last book to the Josephine bonaparte trilogy. The characters are detailed, and lived such interesting and extraordinary lives that you cannot put this book down. This was an excellent read.
Date published: 2003-07-14