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Publisher's Summary

Abigail was the last keeper of the house, the last to know the Howland family's secrets. Now, in the name of all her brothers and sisters, she must take her bitter revenge on the small-minded Southern town that shamed them, persecuted them, but could never destroy them.

Shirley Ann Grau is a major American author whose works are often set in New Orleans and Louisiana's Creole region. She often reflects the isolated bayous and their French-speaking residents, but her fiction is equally at home with the fiercely independent people of small Southern towns or the sophisticated life of the New Orleans' upper class. The Keepers of the House won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1965.

©1964 Shirley Ann Grau (P)1996 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner, Fiction, 1965

"Shirley Ann Grau is one of those rare writers who create a world, draw the reader into it, and make him somehow happy there, no matter what goes on....One comes to the novel's end with a sense of loss, and leaves that world with reluctance." (Newsweek)

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What listeners say about The Keepers of the House

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    621
  • 4 Stars
    366
  • 3 Stars
    175
  • 2 Stars
    57
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    31
Performance
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    97
  • 2 Stars
    37
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    533
  • 4 Stars
    291
  • 3 Stars
    134
  • 2 Stars
    40
  • 1 Stars
    34

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Story, Insufficient Conclusion

This book has been compared to "The Help" by other readers/listeners. There IS NO comparison. It is a well written story and I liked it just fine. There is no discrimination, no abuse of blacks, and I found that refreshing. Abigail grew up playing with and loving the children that her grandfather had with Margaret, a black woman that he lived with after his wife died. Not only did she love the three children, she loved Margaret. The story of Margaret is one of grace and kindness, and the selfless choices that she made for her three children out of love are the best parts of the book. William Howland, Abigail's grandfather, was a simple and good man, wealthy beyond anything that Abigail could have imagined. Overall, the book is low key. The narration is reflective, not passionate. And when it is all said and done, there's no revelation or tying up of loose ends at the conclusion of the book. The ending of a book is a big deal to me, and this one just didn't quite END, it just stopped.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

I'm working my way through Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. The exceptional narrator contributes much to the enjoyment of this fascinating story of the deep south spanning three generations. The different voices were so distinct that there seemed to be more than one reader. Told from several characters' perspectives, the story unfolded seamlessly with an unexpected climax. This is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to (out of about 40). My dog appreciated it too, as I stretched out my listening time as long as possible on our walks.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

very enjoyable

It started slow but I truly enjoyed this book. The narrator is also very good. Highly recommended.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Complex Story, Well-Narrated

This book was a little slow at first and, at times, my attention wandered during the lengthy descriptions of scenery. However, the story does draw you in. It is not formulaic or predictable. The characters are complex and mysterious. The end was a bit unsatisfying only because I really wanted to know more. Finally, the book is read really, really well.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Complex yet Somehow Unsatisfying

This book has kept me thinking for three days now after finishing the story. What I'm thinking about is exactly how I feel about this book. And I'm just not sure. There were some parts of this book that were really quite amazing and worthwhile and yet overall I just couldn't warm to the book. As I write this review perhaps I'm figuring it out, the crux of it for me is the word warmth. I just couldn't warm to even one character, they were all wooden somehow. Although Ms. Grau gives the listener/reader several complex interesting characters who were in many ways well fleshed out, yet not one I can think of showed very much humanity or compassion, just no warmth. Grandfather William was distant, quiet, firm and efficient. The main character Abigail (William's granddaughter) is at times strong and yet submissive, angry and self serving; Abigail's mother is distant and depressed. Margaret (William's second partner, his first wife died early in their marriage)is the most interesting character; she is silent and strong yet she is very removed while always present. Abigail's husband John is just plainly a self serving ass. Then I ask myself is it essential for the characters in this book to have exhibited warmth? Of course the answer is no, not every character must be warm and fuzzy. However most or at least some people do show that they care for others especially within their family, so I guess I just couldn't totally buy it the way it was served up in this book. The narrator did a wonderful job narrating. So this one sure is an interesting mix.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible!

What a great view of our not so distant past. I’m surprised at those who didn’t like the beginning - which seemed to me to be the essential backdrop of the story. Lyrical and very Southern in the telling. Important for those not born and bred in the south. Stories so important for us to remember so that we can keep them from repeating! The narrator was superlative!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

one of my favorite Pulitzers

The Keepers of the House (1964), which won Shirley Ann Grau the Pulitzer Prize, is a masterwork on racism, and is uniquely told as the main character is a white woman in the deep south. She isn't a racist and, in fact, deals with threats and shunning herself. I won't go into more on that as it could spoil some of this brilliant story.

This is a smart, sophisticated, direct and ruthless indictment of racism. Grau's character comes from a family of Alabama landowners and lives in the ancestral family home. The Howland family have lived in this house for generations. In fact, Abigail Howland is the 7th generation. Abigail's father abandoned his wife and child to fight in WW2 and didn't return home. Her mother died young and so Abigail was raised by her grandfather William with the help of an African American woman named Margaret who lived in the home.

Abigail grows up in the home and marries a man who is running for governor. Unfortunately family secrets are exposed. I don't want to say any more as this may already be too much. The book is wonderful and deserves a wider modern-day audience. Read it.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

History is the story of one's past....

Past we can never escape. no matter how far we run or hide...from we can not run or hide from ourselves. ....this book is an excellent example of real life. just as we live it today.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it

This was such a good book! the narration couldn't of been better. It seemed as tho several people were doing the narration, how she separated the characters.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pure art in storytelling

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It was a treat for the senses. An engrossing and artfully told story. The narrator perfectly conveyed the subtle nuances of the characters and situations. The writing is of a quality that is seldom seen in current fiction. Crisp efficient, very descriptive, and engaging. The story flows effortlessly drawing the listener back to another time and place.

What about Anna Fields’s performance did you like?

Her ability to convey the tone and substance of the story was remarkable. Flawless performance.

If you could take any character from The Keepers of the House out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Abigail, her strength and straightforward candor would be a breath of fresh air.

2 people found this helpful