Housekeeping (Anglais) Broché – 1 novembre 2004
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Revue de presse
A haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light.' --Observer
'A novel of quite exceptional subtlety... as quietly humorous as it is heartbreakingly sad. Marilynne Robinson's writing calls to be read slowly and carefully, because it is painstakingly suggestive and evocative.' --Evening Standard --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
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The plot of the book is hardly the point, however. The words are. Reading this book was like looking at an impressionist painting or living inside someone's dream or reading her mind. Words and sentences on their own don't seem to make much sense, but in the context of the larger work, they swirl to form feelings, images, dreams, fears, and thoughts, bouncing from one to another to form a narrative whole. The resulting picture is utterly stunning, dripping with metaphor and stacked in layers.
This is one of the most skillfully written books I've ever read. Aside from a couple passages I found hard to get through, the book captivated me completely from beginning to end. Read it slowly to enjoy every word.
A difficult book to understand? Yes surely. But very unusually in my experience, the jacket blurb includes a phrase which provides the perfect key to reading this book: "the dangerous and deep undertow of transience." It is, in fact, a meditation on impermanence, and it operates on a plane of recurrent and beautifully crafted imagery whose overall effect is almost surreal and certainly spiritual. The facts of this particular story are unimportant compared to the sense that everything we have and are in this world, and all the "housekeeping" we frantically undertake to keep hold of it, are temporary at best. I have certainly felt this myself, and I am not depressed but consoled to know that others understand this too.
Robinson's beautiful writing does have another side to it, however. Unlike other books about childhood, this one is narrated in a voice of exquisite sophistication. But the authorial voice does not square with what we know of the education and later life of the heroine, giving a self-conscious air to its artifice, despite the manifest poetic talent of the writer. Read as a sustained prose poem, however, the book is nothing less than superb, a minor masterpiece.
[Thinking again about this book a year after reading it, I also recognize that, although the details of its plot may vanish, it is one of those rare novels whose atmosphere and message grow and deepen in the memory, long after one has laid it down.]
Housekeeping is not light entertainment. You will have to work and study it but it is so beautifully written that it is a joy. Settle down with your dictionary and enjoy it. I know I did.
One could say that the lack of any feeling the reader had for the characters was the author's way of getting the reader to feel the lack of love and caring that the girls experienced in their own family. If so, I get it, but I wanted to made to feel that, even if their own family didn't care about them, I did. But that is not what happened. I simply stopped caring.
It just felt to me that the author used the idea of these two girls and their awkward, off-beat, tragic family as a vehicle for her magnificent use of the English language. And magnificent though it was, the story got bogged down with all of that lavish description, and I wanted more than that. I wanted substance.