- Fizzy Thoughts: The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor

Saturday, August 15, 2009

prof and housekeeper
The Housekeeper and the Professor

Yoko Ogawa
February 2009
192 pages

Ali very kindly brought me this book when she was visiting the Central Coast. It’s one I’d seen around and the premise sounded intriguing.

From Publishers Weekly:
Ogawa weaves a poignant tale of beauty, heart and sorrow in her exquisite new novel. Narrated by the Housekeeper, the characters are known only as the Professor and Root, the Housekeeper’s 10-year-old son, nicknamed by the Professor because the shape of his hair and head remind the Professor of the square root symbol. A brilliant mathematician, the Professor was seriously injured in a car accident and his short-term memory only lasts for 80 minutes. He can remember his theorems and favorite baseball players, but the Housekeeper must reintroduce herself every morning, sometimes several times a day. The Professor, who adores Root, is able to connect with the child through baseball, and the Housekeeper learns how to work with him through the memory lapses until they can come together on common ground, at least for 80 minutes. In this gorgeous tale, Ogawa lifts the window shade to allow readers to observe the characters for a short while, then closes the shade.

I don’t even like math, and I liked this book. The author weaves in interesting mathematical concepts, such as amicable numbers. And then she relates it to the characters. While I don’t necessary remember anything that I learned, I did find it fascinating at the time. Ogawa personalizes math, and uses it as a bridge between two disparate people.

The story itself is haunting. The Professor is such a lonely character, and the Housekeeper and Root end up becoming a sort of family for him, and vice versa. It is clear they all care for each other, despite the limitations placed upon them by 80 minutes of memory.

Anyways…I can’t thank Ali enough for sharing this little gem with me. And I want to pass on the book love, so leave a comment letting me know if you’re interested in this book. I’ll pick a winner tomorrow.

20 comment(s):

Amanda said...

I've heard this is such a good book. You don't need to enter me in the contest, though. I got a copy of this at ALA and I just haven't gotten to read it yet.

Brittany said...

I've seen this one around too, and I'd love to give it a try!

Melanie said...

Sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Diane said...

I really loved this book.

Diane said...

I really loved this book.

Lit and Life said...

Loved this book and suddenly math sounded interesting! Here's my review: http://litandlife.blogspot.com/2009/07/housekeeper-and-professor.html

Amy said...

Me, me, me I've been dying to read this one! :) I'm a little superfical but I love the cover. I'm glad to hear you liked it as well.

bermudaonion said...

Oh, I'd love to read this book! It sounds so good, and I do like math a little bit.

Joanne said...

I've seen so many good reviews of this book. The math bit scares me a bit since it's my weakness but I love the idea of having to make the most of the eighty minute allotments of memory the professor is capable of.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I've seen so many great reviews of this (and working math into it intrigues me as much as the plot and characterization) ... I'm surprised I haven't already bought it.

I did double-check my shelves (wood and virtual), and I DON'T have it; please enter my name in the giveaway (extra points for rambling?!)

Beth F said...

I have a copy, I'd better get to it soon. I bet I'll love it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I thought it was very funny that you said "While I don’t necessary remember anything that I learned, I did find it fascinating at the time." Did you at least remember for 80 minutes?!!!

raidergirl3 said...

It was so delightful! Glad you enjoyed it, and even understood math, for a few moments!
I already own it, so don't enter me.

Ali said...

ROFL @ Rhapsody!

I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and it thrills me that you're passing it on. Except I'm kicking myself that I didn't register it at Bookcrossing.com before giving it to you. If I register it now, would you be willing to write the number on the inside cover and officially catch and release it?

claire said...

I've been dying to read this, too! And I totally love math. Please enter me, thanks.

Care said...

It's The Housekeeper and the Professor, silly.

Ti said...

Or course I'm interested! This was one of my Friday Finds (I think).

Bookfool said...

I think I'm too late for this drawing, but it's on my wish list. How sweet of Ali to pass it on to you.

Nymeth said...

Amicable numbers, eh? I like the sound of that :P And seriously, this sounds like suck a beautiful book. Must keep it in mind for when my book buying ban is lifted.

Nymeth said...

Argh! *SUCH :P

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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