"Housekeeping" - Marilynne Robinson
"Housekeeping" is the debut novel written by US author Marilynne Robinson in 1980.
The author tells the story of two little girl sisters, abandoned on their grandmother's doorstep by their mother, who had the intention of killing herself by throwing herself into the lake.
Initially, the two sisters will be cared for by their grandmother, unattractive to superfluous effusions, but after her death, she will be replaced by her older sister-in-law, and finally by “aunt Sylvie”.
Sylvie is the real protagonist of the novel: she is a woman with a mysterious past, with a rebellious and wandering life focused on the desperate and silent search for an inner peace that leads to a primordial state of nature. Marilynne Robinson excels in the description of man-nature relationship through the use of a refined prose, a stylistic choice that gives the novel a more intimate connotation. Aunt Sylvie is at ease in the widespread twilight of the house, but even more in the changing light of exterior locations, lit by the rays of the sun or the reverberating wave of the lake water. The lake is the last shelter of the father and Helen, the two absences constantly present in the novel Water, though smothered or agitated by a body that dives into it, soon regains its immobility. Sylvie's vagabond, his eccentricity in a community linked to conventions and appearances, are the cause of Lucille's withdrawal from Ruth. At this time the two American souls emerge: Lucille, representing conservative and perennial America; Ruth, symbolizing America's idealist. The choice of Ruth and Sylvie, so distant and different from that of Lucille, is made of a silent pain, of blurred memories, of imaginative visions that lead them to feel invisible presence. It is a choice of solitude that takes them away, but that does not prevent them from carrying their past.