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May 2020: Other Books > The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, 4 Stars

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message 1: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1175 comments The Housekeeper and the Professor is a gentle and soothing story to read during this time of upheaval in our world. The story is told in a deceptively simple way, from the housekeeper's point of view. A single mother with a 10 year old son, she is assigned to work for a man in his sixties with memory loss. She and her son, whom the professor nicknames "Root", are essentially alone in the world. A shy man, the Professor welcomes both of them into his home.

The Professor's memory loss is profound. He had been hurt in a car accident as a younger man and now, can not remember things for longer than 80 minutes at a time. He is aware of this and at times, his housekeeper can see how much pain this causes him. He is passionate about academic mathematics, which he shares with the housekeeper and her son Root. The professor insists that Root come to his home every day after school while his mother is working there. For Root, who does not know his father and whose grandmother has died, the professor's attention to him matters a great deal. His mother encourages the growing bond between them.

Mathematics and baseball interest all three of them. The professor likes to teach both the housekeeper and her son math concepts. At first, they listen to him out of politeness but then, develop their own interest in the numbers. It is the same with baseball - Each follows the game in his own way. Stuck in the past, the professor tries to follow "Enatsu", his favorite pitcher from years ago.

The professor's sister-in-law is also an important character in the book. Her relationship with him remains a mystery for much of the story.

I found the book to be both gentle and moving. Each character was nicely drawn. Reading it was a good respite from our current, crazy world.


message 2: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2762 comments I really loved this book, as many have in discussions at PBT. Last month I tried The Memory Police by the same author. It has a very different atmosphere, dystopian in a creepy, crawly way. It just wasn't the right book for me in our current situation, although I'm sure I will finish it sometime. She certainly knows how to tell a story.


message 3: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1175 comments I liked the author's style of writing too. After finishing the book, I looked at The Memory Police, but like you, the subject matter did not appeal to me.


message 4: by NancyJ (last edited May 16, 2020 11:34PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4999 comments Great review. I read this several years ago with a bookclub and I agree with you that it was gentle and moving. I don't remember the details as much as the way it made me feel. I'd like to find more books like this.

I remember seeing The Memory Police (perhaps in a giveaway), but I didn't notice it's by the same author. I probably didn't get past the cover.


message 5: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1175 comments Thanks, Nancy. I'm glad you liked the book too. I enjoy books that are not violent and are well-written. I'm on the look-out for books like these.


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