Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Genre: Literary fiction
Age Group: Adults
Publisher: Vintage
Published: 2010
First Published: 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 180
Source: Book Depository
Buy: $9 with free delivery
Rating: ★ 

He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem - ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him. Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles - based on her shoe size or her birthday - and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory. - Book Depository
 This book was beyond amazing! I enjoyed it much more than I expected and it was just great. I found it very hard to put down and I read it in just a day. But, keep in mind, this book is not action packed, full of suspense or anything else a commercial novel may have. It is very much character driven.

Although, it's character driven, none of the characters in this book have names. The housekeeper is simply the housekeeper, the professor, again, is simply the professor and the housekeeper's son is referred to as Root: a nickname he obtained from the professor because his hat is flat like a square root sign. There is also another character whom appears only a handful of times; the sister-in-law. This definitely made it more personal for the reader because these characters could literally be anyone.

The professor seems to have a problem with keeping housekeepers. At the beginning of the book it is noted that the professor has had nine housekeepers which have previously quit their job. Predictably the housekeeper we are presented with seems to find it easy and enjoys working with the professor. The professor is a very loving man. He can be a bit snappy but a lot of the time he is very polite and nice. He also loves Root's company. A very strong bond grows between Root and the professor throughout this book.

As the professor is a maths professor, there was a lot of equations throughout this book. For someone who hates maths, I didn't find it overpowering. I thought it was a nice, simple touch to add to the book. Numbers are basically the professor's only friends and he also admits this fact in the book.

This book was sad for a few reasons. The professor was such a recluse. He didn't know how to act around people and whenever he got frustrated or anxious he resorted to numbers. When he was out in public, this didn't work. This made me feel sorry for him. He seemed also to be a very lonely man and this is touched on in the book. Also, the ending. Not what I was expecting but it was still very sad.

If you're looking for a nice, easy but touching read, this is for you.


  1. I nominated you for the liebster blog award! Details here :

  2. This is an awesome review. I am going to but this one my list. Thanks.

    1. I hope you enjoy it when you read it :)