The Keepers of the House

The Keepers of the House

By Shirley Ann Grau

Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9781400030743, 309pp.

Publication Date: November 11, 2003


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1965, The Keepers of the House is Shirley Ann Grau’s masterwork, a many-layered indictment of racism and rage that is as terrifying as it is wise.

Entrenched on the same land since the early 1800s, the Howlands have, for seven generations, been pillars of their Southern community. Extraordinary family lore has been passed down to Abigail Howland, but not all of it. When shocking facts come to light about her late grandfather William’s relationship with Margaret Carmichael, a black housekeeper, the community is outraged, and quickly gathers to vent its fury on Abigail. Alone in the house the Howlands built, she is at once shaken by those who have betrayed her, and determined to punish the town that has persecuted her and her kin.

Morally intricate, graceful and suspenseful, The Keepers of the House has become a modern classic.

About the Author
Shirley Ann Grau (b. 1929) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of nine novels and short story collections, whose work is set primarily in her native South. Grau was raised in Alabama and Louisiana, and many of her novels document the broad social changes of the Deep South during the twentieth century, particularly as they affected African Americans. Grau's first novel, "The Hard Blue Sky" (1958), about the descendants of European pioneers living on an island off the coast of Louisiana, established her as a master of vivid description, both for characters and locale, a style she maintained throughout her career. Her public profile rose during the civil rights movement, when her dynastic novel "Keepers of the House" (1964), which dealt with race relations in Alabama, earned her a Pulitzer Prize.

Praise For The Keepers of the House

"Each year, I reread three authors--Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Shirley Ann Grau. No one else writes about the landscape of Louisiana as she does, but also about the landscape of bitter love and family dreams, of sex not as romance but as commerce and experiment and mystery, of people adrift in their lives and people so tethered to their own pieces of earth. Keepers of the House is a masterpiece of history and race and the fragile yet tenuous ownership of land and love."
--Susan Straight, author of the National Book Award Finalist Highwire Moon

“A beautifully written book.”--Atlantic Monthly

“Her best novel.”--Saturday Review

“Shirley Ann Grau is one of those rare writers who creates a world, draws the reader into it, and makes him somehow happy there no matter what goes on.…Such is her beguilement that one comes to the novel’s end with a sense of loss and leaves that world with reluctance.” --Newsweek