Cover Snapshot of Read Books

Sara's bookshelf: read

Crazy Little Thing
A Kiss at Midnight
The Disenchanted Widow
Hollywood Wives - The New Generation
There Goes the Bride
Table for Five
Do Not Disturb
The Husband's Secret
The Ugly Duchess
Help for the Haunted
The Power Trip
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Summer At Willow Lake
Every Crooked Nanny
The Mystery Woman
The Woodcutter
How to Be an American Housewife

Sara's favorite books »

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Smart Book, The Housekeeper and The Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor
Poignant, heartwarming, and beautiful, I highly recommend The Housekeeper and the Professor for your next book club.

I adored this fresh and charming novel, which follows a lonely single mother housekeeper as she opens her heart to an unconventional relationship.

The Housekeeper worries when she gets her new assignment as she is the tenth in a long line of housekeepers (this is very bad). The Housekeeper’s new assignment is to clean and cook for the Professor who lives in the cottage out back. The main house does not want to hear of any difficulties or problems that the Housekeeper may have.

The professor answers the door wearing a suit covered with handwritten notes, the most important note being, "my memory lasts only 80 minutes." The Professor always asks numerical questions when the Housekeeper arrives, “what is your shoe size?” and the like. And from her answers he makes numerical comparisons.

The Housekeeper is not bothered by the obtuse and unfriendly Professor who does not like to be disturbed. Her job is to clean and cook and this she does until the day that she tells the Professor she has a son. The Professor, who has not been much of a communicator, insists that she start bringing her son to work, as children should not be left alone! To ensure that the housekeeper brings her son, he writes a note to himself and puts it on his suit.

The Housekeeper respects the professor and knows that he is a brilliant man; she does not want to disappoint him. The next day she brings her son to work with her. The Professor, who was formerly sad and uncommunicative, brightens the minute he sees her son as he pulls the child into his arms for a hug. From then on, there is a warm and welcome relationship between the Professor and the Housekeeper’s son, a kinship despite the fact that each day their relationship must start anew.

This Housekeeper lasts in her job simply because she is fascinated by the Professor and his affinity for numbers. She is the first, in the long line of housekeepers, to listen and appreciate; often trying to solve the mathematical equations and challenges The Professor gives to her. Despite the flaw of having a mere 80 minutes of memory, The Professor is brilliant and interesting to The Housekeeper.

Reading this novel, the reader may not realize that none of the characters are named. There is only the Professor, The Housekeeper, and Root (the nickname given to the Housekeeper’s son by the Professor). And, the novel is filled with math equations, complex numbers that the reader may not understand. Despite those challenges, the reader will want to learn and discover more about the endearing relationships that develop in this wonderfully rendered novel.

 This novel may be hard to find--I found my trade paperback at Half Price Books. The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa is 180 trade paperback pages.