C's bookshelf: read

The Peculiar
Maggot Moon
The City and the City
The Road
A Certain Slant of Light
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Brown Girl in the Ring
Well Wished
The Innkeeper's Song
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
American Indian Myths and Legends
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers

C S Peterson's favorite books »

Monday, March 3, 2014

It’s Monday - What are you reading? Housekeeping

I’ve been reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
It is a poem of a book devastating and beautiful, about life and loss and beauty. It has brought me to tears more than once. In Idaho, in the town of Fingerbone, two little girls grow up. Abandoned by their parents, they are raised first by their mystified grandmother, then by two dithering maiden great-aunts and finally by their mother’s transient sister who is incapable of housekeeping in a life so fragile and awash in the waters of memory. 

I’m also reading the first Harry Potter with my youngest son, who is ten. A different genre, of course, but he is also an orphan and threatened by wasting away, looking at his lost parents in a mirror.

This has got me to thinking - how many protagonists are orphans? I’ve counted quite a few. Why do you think this is?


  1. I've put Housekeeping on my list, but there are so, so many I want to read-time to quit everything else & read! Orphans, immediately poignant maybe, instant story of their plight. I did a blog tour a few months ago about books from a popular author in England, all about her terrible plight as an orphan. Maybe Dickens started it all! Fun to hear that Potter is making the rounds with new readers now!

  2. I read Housekeeping for a graduate class back in 1992 and it has never left me. So beautiful.

    I remember so much of the book felt cold and raw...that lake...the air...and my gosh, Sylvie..I remember thinking her hands must be cold to the touch even though I remember feeling that she was so warm within her. Even the name of the town, Fingerbone, brings up the cold, doesn't it? I still have my copy from that class and I one of my notes from a lecture that I scrawled in the back of it reads, "death is the mother of beauty."

  3. I like this question, Katie - so much to think about. Insightful parallels between the books.

    I think there's such an element of sadness around the feeling of being a child and as a species, we are so continually care-dependent, that it's truly heart-breaking to contemplate orphanism outside of sadness for me.

    I'd love to read others' thoughts too.