Wild Strawberries (a small tribute to Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping)

I’ve just finished reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.  I don’t know if my view of the book will settle down to something a little less extreme but as I type this I feel this is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.  I usually mark books I own – deface them some might complain – with vertical lines in the margins; small reminders to help me navigate back to passages I have found especially compelling.  This technique was largely redundant with Housekeeping.  The whole of chapter eight, for example, would have required a vertical line along its margin.  I’m no book reviewer so I’ll finish with one small passage to exemplify, I hope, the precision and powerful elegance of the writing.

  “For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires.  To crave and to have are as like a thing and its shadow.  For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it?  And here again is a foreshadowing-the world will be made whole.  For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it.  So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again.  Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries.”



6 thoughts on “Wild Strawberries (a small tribute to Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping)

  1. I had the weirdest reaction to Housekeeping. I’d read a few pages and be blown away, thinking it was the best book I’d ever read. Then the next few pages would strike me as dull and I’d have to force myself to read on, only to be mesmerised once more. That’s never happened to me before or since. It certainly stays with you as a piece of art, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can certainly see how that might happen. It made me slow down. And it requires effort but repays that effort with interest I believe. What I particularly like is that it has a real narrative drive as well as a unique prose style.


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