The Housekeeper and the Professor

…by Yoko Ogawa.

Set in Japan, the novel is about a man, gifted mathematician, once a Professor, who now suffers from a illness. Due to an accident  he was in involved in decades ago his memory only lasts eighty minutes. Everything that happened prior to the accident, he remembers, but since he injury his mind is only capable of handling eighty minutes at a time. His sister-in-law, the only person that is his family now, looks out for him and makes sure he is taken care of.

She (the sister-in-law) hires a housekeeper, a young mother of a ten year old, to take care of the Professor’s basic day to day needs. The story is about how the Professor bonds with the Housekeeper and her soon, whom he nicknames Root.

The Housekeeper is mesmerized by the Professor’s passion for mathematics and learns quite a lot from him about the subject, given that their normal conversations revolve around the subject. And the Professor finds comfort in Root’s company – they share a special interest in baseball, apart from the being intrigued by math. The story goes on to reveal how, in spite of his illness, the Professor, the Housekeeper and the child go on to make a create this beautiful relationship that brings all of them immense joy.

This is a poignant tale of bonds that we share with people other than family. I loved reading each and every word of the book – what attracted me at first was the mathematics part, but what stayed behind after I finished reading the book are the sentiments that are so well captured. A reassuring tale that true love (in the most platonic sense) has the power to go above and beyond any barrier.

The author’s words is like a stream – calming the reader, yet creating anxiety every now and then. I loved how I was always left wanting more whenever I closed the book. The flow is flawless and the writing is simple – making it a quick and easy read.

Beware, though, that if you are not a big fan of math or baseball, you might find parts of the novel drag, for there are many references to those subjects. You don’t have to know it all, but as long as you don’t mind reading through couple of paragraphs about number theory or baseball season, then it should be a pleasant read.

Overall, a compelling tale that revolves around companionship. I highly recommend it.

My rating: 4*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

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10 comments on “The Housekeeper and the Professor

  1. Swaram says:

    I liked the plot .. wud luv to read this one 🙂

    Sigh! there r so many books to read .. I already got 7 delivered yesterday 😛

    • Titaxy says:

      7 books? Nice 😀 Do let us know if you want to do a guest review here as and when if you read those…would love to read whether or not you liked the books 🙂

  2. Nu says:

    should catch up on this 🙂

  3. Sigh…the list of books to read gets longer and longer. And the money just isn’t there! 😛 Will look in the library for this one…

    • Titaxy says:

      I know 😀 I have a long list too, and for now I’ve settled to go to the bookstore everyday and read for a while right there, instead of buying 😆

  4. RS says:

    Came here to say, I read this book on your reco. and find it an awesome read. Cannot thank you enough for introducing this….Thank you!!

    • Titaxy says:

      It’s a charming book, isn’t it? I got bored in parts because I didn’t get much of the baseball discussions, that’s my fault though, not the book’s 😀 I loved the relationship dynamics that are characterized in the book…that made it a delightful read, added bonus being all the math references 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it too.

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