Books: Castaways

HOUSEKEEPING by Marilynne Robinson Farrar, Straus & Giroux 219 pages; $10.95

Most small American towns have at least one: the "odd" house that everyone knows and gossips about, the old place going to seed on the outside while a hidden, perhaps unimaginable life transpires behind drawn shades or yellowing lace curtains. A home haunted by its occupants fascinates the neighbors and many, many writers; the phenomenon crops up from Poe to Faulkner to Harper Lee and beyond. That last category now includes Author Marilynne Robinson. Her unsettling first novel deals with the fall of yet another house, but from an unusual vantage....

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