A charming and skillful story

April 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Posted in Award winners, Great for Book Clubs, Middle Weight Fiction, The Housekeeper and The Professor | 6 Comments

‘The Housekeeper and the


Yoko Ogawa April 2009

A brilliant old mathematician lives alone in his run down two roomed house in Japan on his sister-in-law’s property. Due to an accident in 1975 he has lost his power to create new memories. He cannot remember anything for longer than eighty minutes and so still believes it is 1975. But he does remember the mathematics he studied prior to the accident and living in this abstract manner comes to be his saving grace.

A housekeeper is dispatched by her agency to work for the old man taking care of his home and meals. She is a single parent to a young boy and the trio come to share a deep and tender relationship within the limits of the old man’s disability. The tenderness and empathy the housekeeper and her son develop towards the old man quickly surpass the boundaries of their professional relationship with him and as with many a good novel there are consequences to this.

In this beautifully evocative novel empathy finds its place between each of the characters own fragility. The writing allows the plot to develop naturally and the abstract nature of number theory creates another depth to the story. The evocation of Japan and it’s food is very moving as is the story’s natural flow showing Yoko Ogawa’s skill as a writer.

This was originally published in Japan under the title The Professor’s Beloved Equation (博士の愛した数式 and sold four million copies. It is a charming jewel of a read.

Click here to reserve this book from a DLR Library

Haiku; Maths and memories, create a tender novel, all readers it will please


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  1. I have recently read this novel and agree with you saravivien, this was such a lovely, heart-warming little read. A beautiful and elagant story. You review reminded me of how much I enjoyed it. Thanks! 🙂

    • Thanks Siamsa!! It was such a lovely read I can’t reccommend it highly enough 🙂

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I really love your book reviews. They are sensitively written and give a wonderful insight into the plot and all the characters. I am keeping a list of the ones I really like for future reference! It is a great gift to be able to review a book well.

    Kind regards,

    • Thank you very much Mary I’m delighted you like the reviews and thanks for the lovely comments!

      • I love the reviews too Sarah. Its great to sign up and get them sent via email, and have printed all relevant reviews for my Aunt in new York who is an avid reader. She often sends me reviews from the New York Times and yours compare very well with these, and often surpass them. Well done Sarah!

      • Thanks a million! It’s wonderful to know that the reviews will be read in New York 🙂

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