The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa - Book Review

The best books are the ones that quietly reveal the mysteries of living our everyday lives. Some stories will boom out their message, and they’re fun to ride, but the important ones are the little, nuanced, character-driven stories that add insight into the human condition. The Housekeeper and the Professor is exactly the little sort of story where you turn the last page with a sigh, so glad that you’ve experienced it, better for having gotten to know its characters.

The Housekeeper, a single mother to a ten-year old boy, is sent to work for The Professor, a virtuoso mathematician. She worries it will be a difficult job as he’s been through nine housekeepers before her; but mostly, she worries because The Professor is limited to an eighty-minute window of memory - the result of an accident seventeen years before. Each morning, The Professor awakens in 1975. He’s managed his dilemma by pinning reminder notes to his suit, little crumpled scraps of a life he doesn’t remember living. Each morning he looks down at the prominent note telling him he has only eighty minutes of memory. Each morning he meets The Housekeeper anew. Over the breadth of the tale, a unique and enchanting friendship develops, one bonded by a shared love of baseball and The Professor’s infectious passion for mathematics.

The Housekeeper and the Professor is a story of pure friendship. There’s an undertone of pulsating need that creates a suspenseful and glimmering feel. The author’s ability to seamlessly interweave math, baseball and the importance of friendship is an uncanny, amazing talent. Beautifully written, exactingly translated from Japanese, The Housekeeper and the Professor is a story you’ll savor and not soon forget.

Highest of recommendations!

Personal Thoughts: If you love math and/or baseball, this story might be even more poignant. I hold no love for either, but adored this sweet tale. I found myself enthralled by the complex math equations, something never before experienced by this reading masters degreed, math-shunning gal. I additionally loved the writer’s decision in not naming the characters, illustrating the transcendence of love. The aptly nicknamed Root provides the foundation his moniker suggests. Furthermore, the writer’s brilliance entranced me. Ogawa is the sort of writer who leaves me in absolute wonder of the craft. I’m not the first to notice; she’s won a plethora of awards. Her writing is tight and multi-layered. The Housekeeper and the Professor is my kind of book: totally character driven, edited fantastically, revealing its truths in quiet. A reader’s story.

Thank you to Picador and the Picador Twitter Book Club

Description, Excerpt & Reader's Guide Here

Buy The Housekeeper and the Professor HERE

© 2007-2009


housekeeper said...

Your comment made me interested in reading this book, so I guess it has met its purpose. I also believe that the most interesting and wonderful stories rely on our everyday life, because they always surprise us.

Anonymous said...

Sound like a wonderful book. Thanks for the review.

By the way, I passed an award on to you here.

Ali said...

This is one of very few books I've read in the past year that I've passed on to my husband after finishing. I thought it was a great read and had the same experience you did, with gaining a new appreciation for math.


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