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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Ogawa, Yoko: The Housekeeper and the Professor

  Amazon  

5 stars

The Professor of the book's title is a mathematical genius whose memory stopped in 1975 when he sustained injuries in a car accident. Since then, his memory lasts for only 80 minutes at a stretch, which makes it impossible for him to live a normal life. He copes in part by covering his suit with clipped-on notes, snippets that remind him about his memory loss, or about where he can find things in his house, or about the fact that he has a housekeeper. She is a stranger to him every morning, and he covers the awkwardness of each reunion by asking her when her birthday is, or what her phone number is. The numerical answers fascinate him and provide fodder for conversation: every number has its story. He and the housekeeper, for example, share a peculiar bond in that her birthday expressed in numeric form—February 20th, or 220—and the number on the back of his watch, 284, are amicable numbers: the sum of the factors of 220 is 284, and the sum of the factors of 284 is 220. This is the sort of information that is stored in the Professor's head, acquired pre-1975, easily retrievable. The Professor also has a gift for teaching, for sharing his excitement about numbers without condescending. The housekeeper and her ten-year-old son Root—so nicknamed by the Professor because the shape of his head resembles a square root sign—benefit from his instruction. The Housekeeper and the Professor is the story of the relationship among the three of them as they bond over numbers and baseball—a sport, after all, which spawns statistics with every pitch. It's a simple, sweet love story, very sad but also almost joyous. Despite the fragmentation of his memory, the Professor's innate goodness is a constant, and he develops a real affection in particular for Root, even if he can't remember who the boy is from day to day. It's a beautiful book.

Comments

1.

Yes, exactly - simple and sweet. Your review reminds me very well of it.

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