Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and the ProfessorThe Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Housekeeper and the Professor" by Yoko Ogawa is a wonderful and moving book set in Japan. Its prose and language are simple and yet, they are full of depth and meaning. The author is able to draw and engulf the reader into its world and beautiful storyline. The story makes the reader pause to think about the words contained in this book. Underneath the sadness of the situation, a story of happy times and of hope emerges.

The novel s about a Housekeeper, sent to care for a Professor who has a particular ailment, his memory only lasts 80 minutes. This was a result of an accident a few decades back. The Professor (a Math Professor) lives in a world of numbers as it is the only thing that remains constant and unchanging. Numbers are the only things he knows will not change and he spends his time solving math problems from mathematical magazines. He is often successful at this and is constantly winning money prizes for solving the math problems. Yet, after eighty minutes his mind resets which makes things complicated fr the housekeeper who has to keep reintroducing herself.

The Housekeeper is a single mother who works for a housekeeping agency. She is a very patient and good woman who has struggled to raise her son and is empathetic towards the Professor. When the Professor meets her son, he instantly becomes friendly to him (and every time he meets him again). All of the Professors friendly gestures, care and concern are directed towards the boy he nicknames Root. The Housekeeper comes to appreciate this and her feelings of friendship for the Professor deepen. She is grateful that he is so nice to her son. For Housekeeper, the Professor, in time, becomes someone she can consider a friend and a good influence. She is cognizant of the effect that the Professor has on her and on her son. As the book progresses, the Housekeeper learns of the Professors Past and understands him better. Both the Housekeeper and Root are positively changed through their time spent with the Professor. The are challenged by his math problems, and they know and understand each other better.

This was a very good book and it was great to read it.

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