Housekeeping mesmerized me. This novel, which I have come to consider a contemporary classic, is a tale of a bleak and wintry town with the dreadful name of Fingerbone, and of two young sisters who wind up stuck there after their mother commits suicide by driving her car into a lake. Eventually, they find themselves being cared for by a somewhat loopy, but nonetheless kind aunt with a very quirky housekeeping style. The descriptions of the desolate and vast landscapes, experienced via long walking journeys by the girls, are superbly done. The narration by one of the sisters is believable and captivating. Sylvie, the oddball aunt, is a terrific character, as are the two older aunts who precede her temporarily in the story. It's a slowly unraveling tale of a slowly unraveling woman (Sylvie) and her remarkably different effects on two sisters who start out close. I'd recommend this to anyone who really appreciates good writing. Bleakness and disorder are strong motifs in the story, as well as mental illness. I read this book decades ago, remembering the basic plot and that I'd really liked the book, and so I picked it up again after about 25 years. I think it was even better the second time. I have also seen the movie, with Aunt Sylvie played by Christine Lahti, and thought it stood up well to the book. It surprises me when a book that is so enriched by its wonderful prose style turns out well in a movie. I recommend both, but especially the book.
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