I only read books occasionally. If I find interesting ones, I buy or borrow them, just like Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor.
I have no idea about this book. Same case for the author. I was waiting for my flight when I decided to go the bookstore and saw this book with sakura or cherry blossoms on the cover. I thought this could be an interesting read. It definitely was.
I liked how the book focused on three major no-name characters. Make it four if we will include the sister-in-law. Being an engineering graduate, the way the equations were defined and illustrated in the book, made me want to go back to school and learn again, thinking my teacher would be The Professor. To some, the pace maybe a little bit on the slow to dragging side but I think that was the intention of the author in contrast to the 80-minute memory of the professor.
The plot was simple but Yoko Ogawa painted everything in style, like a haiku. From the quiet tone to the choice of words, it was an engaging read. I think I appreciated it more since I am living in Japan, thus, a bit familiar with location and scenarios. There are lots of scenes that you’ll end up rooting to the Professor, Housekeeper and Root. A family without blood relation. One character though that is not well-defined was that of the sister-in-law. I liked her character though she only appeared in a very limited time. She has a strong presence despite the focus was not on her.
The book was near perfection in my opinion so I thought it deserves a film adaptation. To my surprise, there was one already, The Mathematician and His Beloved Equation (Hakase no aishita sûshiki). It was a Japanese film produced years before the book was translated to English. Some of the parts were modified for the screenplay but the plot is basically the same. The film also made an effort to show more about the sister-in-law. So if the book left you with some questions, the movie can answer it for you. She has a heart after all.
This is the first time I've heard about Yoko Ogawa and definitely won't be the last. I'll end this review with one of my favorite quotes from the book,
“Solving a problem for which you know there’s an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid.”