the case of H.M., is both poignant and uplifting — with just the right touch of sentimentality.
In fact, this book is pure enchantment. A book to read over and over again!
In spite of the professor's impaired short-term memory, much like a tape that rewinds and starts over every eighty minutes, the man enriches the lives of his housekeeper and her ten-year-old son, whom the professor dubs as "Root" because of the boy's flat top haircut. The boy's profile closely resembles the square root sign.
You see, the professor relates to everyone and everything in terms of mathematics and number theory. Serving as a teacher to the housekeeper and a surrogate grandfather to the boy, the professor imparts to this two daily visitors a great deal about numbers; for example, the number 28 is a perfect number. Indeed, he opens a whole world of mathematics to the housekeeper and her son. As the reader expects and enjoys, when "Root" grows up, he becomes a math teacher.
The young housekeeper and her son open to the professor the world of baseball, a sport which the professor has always loved because baseball is a sport of statistics. They take the professor to a baseball game, and this trip is one of the only outside ventures the professor has made since the accident that impaired his short-term memory nearly two decades before.
Of course, because of the professor's memory deficit, every day is a new day. In fact, every eighty minutes is a new day! The housekeeper has to keep reintroducing herself to the professor, and he always begins the introductory conversation by asking, "What is your shoe size?" The housekeeper grows to understand that this kind of numbers conversation with the professor is indeed approval and enjoyment — and his way of making a human connection, something of which he had been deprived for so long.
In addition to number theory, the professor does have something else that he can never forget, but I won't spoil the book's ending by telling you what that one thing is.
Please watch this young man's review of the book:
Also see this essay in Asian Review of Books.
The Housekeeper and the Professor is not a romance, nor is it a novel which analyzes neurology. Rather, it is a book that pays tribute to the indomitable human spirit, which has wonderful adaptability and resilience.
Read this book, which I cannot recommend highly enough!
The Housekeeper and the Professor is available at Amazon and most public libraries. The audio version is among the best audio versions I've ever encountered.