Women's Book Reviews

The delightful book "The Housekeeper" by Yoko Ogawa is discussed.

Now that my children are grown, I find that I have time to read again and I am enjoying this opportunity immensely.  As much as I love to sit and become engrossed in an enthralling novel, I also enjoy learning about what my friends and co-workers are finding interesting in the literary world. 

About two years ago, I created a website called The Women’s Book Reviews so that all my female friends and acquaintances would have the opportunity to see what everyone else was reading.  It is a place where you can read reviews and write reviews.  Each week I would like to discuss a book that has been reviewed on the website.  Hopefully, you will get excited about these books and check them out from the library or purchase them for yourselves.

The book I would like to discuss this week is The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko
Ogawa.  This is one of the most delightful books that I have ever read. It is the type of book that can easily get overlooked since it and its characters are so unassuming. The premise will sound familiar to those people who ever saw the movie "50 First Dates" where the main character has almost no short-term memory. In this book, a housekeeper, who is a single mother, is assigned to care for a 64-year-old professor who had been in an automobile accident at the age of 47 and as a result, can retain new memories for only 80 minutes. The professor tacks yellow sticky notes to his suit so that he can read them at the beginning of each new day.  Every day the housekeeper arrives at the professor’s home, she has to re-introduce herself, as she appears to be a newcomer to the old man. 

At first, she finds the professor cold and impersonal.  His only conversations pertain to numbers and equations.  However, when the professor learns that the housekeeper has a 10-year-old son, he insists that the young boy come to his house every day after school.  He names the boy “Root” because his flat head reminds him of a square root symbol.  The three individuals bond and become a unique family unit.  The professor shares his love of numbers with the mother and son and displays the beauty of mathematics.  As well, they all share a love for baseball.

There are only four characters in this memorable novel: the housekeeper, the professor, the son and the professor’s sister-in-law.  The only one whose name we are informed of is “Root” and this is only a nickname.  The story is simple and the words are not wasted, but it is a story you will continue to think about long after you have completed the book.  There were three reviews for this novel on The Women’s Book Reviews website and each reviewer gave it a 5-star rating out of five stars.  I think that says it all.

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Anne Ferber May 24, 2011 at 03:05 PM
I am so happy for the opportunity to talk about books, my favorite topic. This book is such a gem. The relationships came as close to unconditional love as is possible, based on committment, loyalty, and humanity.
Loren Poley May 26, 2011 at 07:37 PM
I just added to my Kindle. Another book to look forward to. Thanks for the recommendation!
Barbara Diener May 30, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Love that you're blogging or Patch. Me too, but for Johns Creek area. Women's Book Review's is a great resource. I always enjoy your book suggestions, as well as the many other reader's. Personally, I can't wait to get my teeth into a new book again. I have to finish the stack on my night stand first, of course. Hope you are all having a memorable weekend. Barbara Diener
Debbie Weiss May 30, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Thanks, Barbara. I really appreciate your kind words about the website. I look forward to reading and commenting on your blog, too! You have a great weekend as well. Debbie
Judy Stanton June 04, 2011 at 03:05 AM
Thanks, Debbie, for recommending this sweet little gem of a book. The review on the front cover..."Highly original, Infinitely charming, and ever so touching" pretty much says it all. It's a quick read and a very satisfying one, a lovely story of human beings touching each others lives in unexpected ways. It reminds me of other stories where people in different cultures, social strata, and educational backgrounds can still come together to form a "family." Although set in Japan and actually translated from that language, it could have easily been an American story. It makes me want to read more of Ogawa's stories.


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