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Review – The Housekeeper and the Professor March 21, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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The Housekeeper and the Professor

by Yoko Ogawa

This is a brilliant book about a Housekeeper, her 10-year-old son, and  a mathematics Professor. The Professor sustained a head injury in a car accident and now can only retain 80 minutes of memory. The story is about how friendship can transcend the limits of memory.

What I liked about this story is how Ogawa didn’t name her characters. She just labeled them as “the Housekeeper”, “the Professor”, and “Root”.  Root was the Professor’s nickname for the Housekeeper’s son. Root was the closest  you got to a name for a character. Her character development shone through with a stark crispness that exceeded names.

Contrary to the title, this book wasn’t a romance. The relationship between the Professor and the Housekeeper was purely platonic. The purity of the book was both sweet and poignant.

Ogawa intersperses a lot of mathematics within the pages, but it’s easy for a layman to understand. It also adds to the story. The love the Professor has for mathematics shines through and the fascination that the Housekeeper and her son eventually share with him is evident. You can see how mathematics added to their relationship and made it all the richer.

I read this book in one day as it’s more of a novella. It was still a complete and full in flavor leaving nothing undone. This was one of the better books I’ve read in a long time.