He is a brilliant math professor with a peculiar problem - ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only 80 minutes of short-term memory.
She is an astute young housekeeper - with a 10-year-old son-who is hired to care for the professor. And every morning, as the professor and the housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every 80 minutes), the professor's mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the housekeeper and her young son. The professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities - like the housekeeper's shoe size - and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.
Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.
©2003 Yoko Ogawa. Translation Copyright 2009 by Stephen Snyder. (P)2013 Tantor
"Ogawa weaves a poignant tale of beauty, heart, and sorrow in her exquisite new novel." (Publishers Weekly)
I don't review every book--only books I feel strongly about--hence the many 4-5 star vs 1-2 star reviews. Just my opinions--hope they help.
It is difficult to capture and convey the true essence of this magical novel in a review. The story revolves around and explores concepts of memory, mathematics and human connection. It is about acceptance and kindness. More than this, this gentle story reminds the reader that life is an opportunity for celebration. It's about finding meaning in small things, seeing with new eyes and learning concepts you thought you might never understand.
The book was expertly narrated by Cassandra Campbell who was deftly able to capture the subtle nuances of the writing. Her timing and use of pauses, inflection and quietness were perfect.
To me, this was a beautifully written, insightful and compelling novel. At times sad, but filled with possibility and hope. I loved it.
This is a gem. A feel good story and the book makes you look at math philosophically.
This would be one of my top books and it is the type of book that reminds me of Bel Canto in the way you fall in love with the interesting characters
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
I have read in a long time! Sheer poetry from start to finish! Please more from this author!
Intelligent, cozy, tranquility
So many. The descriptions of The Housekeeper preparing food is a masterpiece in itself.
Her soothing voice is medicine for the soul.
I loved every second of this book. Thank you so much!
A poetic elegy to the interrelated beauty of relationships: the human, the quantitative, the heart and the sport. Both precise and artistic, this book had a perfect story arc from beginning to end. A must-read.
Another reviewer said it well, this story won't be made into a blockbuster movie HOWEVER if you simply want to be captivated by a story, this may be a tale you will love. There are hints of heartbreak but the story isn't about romantic love, it's about the formation of unlikely friendships and how "family" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. If you ever wanted to truly understand what it means to live in the present, this book will give you a vibrant example.
In short, this story was a respite from busy-ness (misspelling intentional) and a joy.
An unexpected delight! A thoughtful story about a young housekeeper who goes to work for a medically retired mathematics professor whose short-term memory only lasts 80 minutes. Everyday she comes to work is the first time her employer has met her. Intelligent and sensitive, but not highly educated, the housekeeper comes to learn about his quirks and shortcomings, and develops a great appreciation for his intelligence and love of prime numbers. Her esteem for him only increases when he lovingly showers attention on her 10 year old son.
Along the way, the listener learns about number theory, baseball in Japan, the struggles of a single mother, and how one man's remarkable intelligence and sensitivity have survived a terrible accident. Told from the first person perspective of the housekeeper, this book is warm, honest, and interesting, with no sentimentality. The narration is perfect and Campbell does a great job of giving voice to the young housekeeper.
No. It is pretty much a one-trick pony; but it was a great character study.
The fascinating relationships between the professor, the housekeeper and her young son. How does one have an ongoing relationship that ends each day? Quite a concept.
Totally in keeping with the demeanor of the housekeper.
Many. The ball game, perhaps.
Not being a mathematical type, I suspect I missed a lot of significance; but I didn't miss much in the gentle dance between these lovely beings.
What a sweet, engaging story. I have read of this memory affliction, but have never seen it handled so well, both by the central figure and by his/her immediate circle of family and caregivers. The narrator is perfect for this book.
A Japanese story translated into English but well worth experiencing. It is a gentle yet deeply engaging story about a love of math, human connections, family. An odd mix but brought together in harmony. Highly recommend even for those not interested in math.
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