The Housekeeper

The Housekeeper and the Professor

by Yoko Ogawa

Gail Reid (11/28/11): You can add me to the list of people who want to recommend this fine book. It's a small book wtih a big message. How the housekeeper, her 10-year-old son, and the professor interact with each other shows that a family can be defined in many ways. The professor, handicapped with a bizarre condition that allows him to remember things for only 80 minutes, shares his passion for mathematics and baseball with the housekeeper and her son. While the setting is in Japan, the story resonates with a universal message that could happen anywhere.
Rating: ****

Judy Stanton: 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.
Rating: *****

Debbie Weiss: 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 "Momento" where the main character has almost no short-term memory. Instead of writing messages on his skin, though, the professor tacks yellow sticky notes to his suit so that he can read them at the beginning of each new day. However, the beauty of this book is found in the wonderfully rich relationships that get created between the three individuals, the housekeeper, the professor and the housekeeper's young son. With the professor's love of math, the reader actually sees the symmetry and magic of the subject matter --- who thought that math could be so interesting?
Rating: *****

Janet Kolodner: I forgot about this book until I just read the review of it. It is, indeed, a gem. It is a very quiet book with very spare language. Yet you feel like you know the characters anyway. It works up to an ending that is very moving. Definitely a 5.
Rating: *****

Anne Ferber: This is a darling gem of a novel. I read it in one sitting and found it to be most delightful and surely very different. No one has a name. They simply are who they are. The professor suffered a terrible car accident years before which affected his brain, allowing only 80 minutes of memory at a time. Thus, the housekeeper must go through a daily introduction process everytime she comes to work. Inspite of this great handicap, the housekeeper manages to establish a marvelous relationship among the professor, herself and her young son, and somehow they become a kind of family through mutual caring. The professor's field is math and he sees the world in mathematical relationships giving the story an original, poetic quality. Not a word is wasted. This is a great, quick read.
Rating: *****

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