Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review: The Housekeeper and the Professor...

I have just finished reading a lovely book called, The Housekeeper and the Professor. It's a wonderful, gentle read for anyone interested in relationships and how they develop, but particularly wonderful for anyone interested in the subtleties of the caregiving relationship.

The story, itself, is that of a Japanese housekeeper and her 10 year old son who care for an aging mathematics professor with a traumatic brain injury. As the result of the injury, the Professor has a short term memory of only 80 minutes, requiring a re-introduction to the Housekeeper every morning as she arrives to do her work.

Behind foreground themes of mathematics and baseball, Yoko Ogawa's spare but beautiful writing explores the caregiving relationship in all it's complexity. Themes of love, loyalty, fierce protectiveness, vulnerability, denial, humanity, respect, perseverance, and caring are all dealt with in a lean and sometimes poetic hand. We are drawn into the chronic sorrow that is a part of all permanent injuries, the joys and difficulties of life's simplest things, and the day-to- day creativity required for adjusting to lost abilities.

If you are someone who requires action and excitement to make "a good read", this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, good writing, keen observation and the gift of story telling are the elements of a good book, you will find them here.

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