Jul 27, 2015

Japan Weekend: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa


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Review by Suze

The Professor needs a new housekeeper. Many have been offered this job, but nobody managed to last for a very long time. The Professor has a brilliant mind, but because of an accident his memory doesn't function very well anymore. He can remember everything and everyone from before the accident, but now after 80 minutes everything is gone from his mind again. That means he will never be able to remember the Housekeeper. She has to introduce herself to him every time the 80 minutes are up. The Professor uses notes that he attaches to his suit, this reminds him of basic things, like the fact that he has a memory problem. When he hears about the Housekeeper's son, Root, he asks her to bring him. Even though the Professor forgets Root as well they still have a special connection. The Professor is still very good at maths. He tries to solve problems and he teaches Root. Slowly the Housekeeper, Root and the Professor find a routine together, one that will be beneficiary to all of them.

The professor can come up with the most amazing connections between numbers. Because of this book I started to appreciate the beauty of some of them. I learned a lot about maths and the way numbers can have some kind of amazing relationship. The professor will never be able to have any permanent memories from the time after his accident. He's forced to live in a present that is inevitably linked with the past. The Housekeeper learns to find a way to connect with him and through her memory they discuss something new every time. Root loves his chats with the professor, especially when they talk about sports. Even though the professor can't ever remember any new names in the teams with some adjustments and little white lies from Root they can have the most wonderful conversations about their favorite topic besides math. It was so moving to see the ten year old boy and the Professor interact with each other. 

The Housekeeper and the Professor has impressed me very much. The story is original and very well written. Having a memory that erases itself is one of the most horrible things there is, but because of his extremely bright mind the Professor manages to live with it in a very smart way. I loved him from the start and he's a character that will always have a special place in my heart. He loves children and Root is a boy, so every time he sees him it brightens the Professor's day. That was so beautiful to watch. I really enjoyed reading this unusual book about love and friendship in an almost impossible situation. I read this story in one sitting and think it's so good that I can't praise it enough.  

1 comment:

  1. Yoko Ogawa is one of my favourite authors and I was literally crying in the end of this novel. Great review :)

    Aeriko @ http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.com

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