The Keepers of the House Book Summary - The Keepers of the House Book explained in key points

The Keepers of the House summary

Shirley Ann Grau

Brief summary

The Keepers of the House is a captivating novel by Shirley Ann Grau. It tells the story of a wealthy white widow, Abigail, and her unconventional relationship with a black man, challenging racial prejudices in the 1960s American South.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    The Keepers of the House
    Summary of key ideas

    The Unveiling of a Family's Dark Past

    In The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, we are introduced to the Howland family, who have lived in their grand estate in rural Alabama for generations. The story begins with the death of Abigail Howland's grandfather, William Howland, a prominent figure in the community. As Abigail begins to sort through her grandfather's belongings, she stumbles upon a series of letters that reveal a shocking secret - William had a long-term relationship with a black woman named Margaret, who worked as a housekeeper in their estate.

    As Abigail delves deeper into her family's history, she uncovers the complex dynamics that existed between her grandfather and Margaret. Despite the racial prejudices of the time, William and Margaret had a loving relationship and even had children together. However, their union was kept a secret, and their children were sent away to be raised by Margaret's family.

    The Community's Reaction

    Abigail's discovery of this hidden past sends shockwaves through the conservative Southern community. The revelation of William's relationship with a black woman and their mixed-race children is met with outrage and condemnation. The Howland family becomes social pariahs, and Abigail, in particular, faces severe backlash for her association with this scandal.

    Despite the community's disapproval, Abigail refuses to be cowed. She stands by her family's history and even begins to develop a sense of pride in her mixed-race heritage. She also forms a close bond with her half-brother, who was raised by Margaret's family, and begins to understand the struggles he faced growing up as a biracial child in a prejudiced society.

    Struggles and Resilience

    As the story progresses, we witness the Howland family's resilience in the face of adversity. Abigail's father, who initially struggles to accept his family's tarnished reputation, eventually comes to terms with their past. He even runs for political office, despite knowing that his family's history will be used against him.

    Abigail, too, finds her own path to acceptance and understanding. She marries John Tolliver, a man from a prominent Southern family, and together they navigate the challenges of their interracial marriage. Despite the prejudices they face, they remain steadfast in their commitment to each other and their shared values.

    Legacy and Redemption

    In the final chapters of The Keepers of the House, we see the passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Abigail and John's children, who are biracial, represent a new era of racial integration and acceptance. They are determined to honor their family's complex heritage and work towards a more inclusive society.

    In conclusion, The Keepers of the House is a powerful exploration of race, identity, and family legacy. It sheds light on the deep-rooted racial prejudices that have plagued American society and the resilience of individuals who refuse to be defined by them. Through the Howland family's story, Shirley Ann Grau delivers a poignant message about the importance of understanding and accepting our shared history, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Keepers of the House about?

    The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau is a powerful novel that delves into the complexities of race, family, and identity in the American South. Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of a wealthy white widow, Abigail Howland, and her unconventional relationship with a black man. As their love defies societal norms, it exposes deep-seated prejudices and leads to devastating consequences for the family.

    The Keepers of the House Review

    The Keepers of the House (1964) delves into the complexities of racial tensions in the American South through the intertwined lives of a wealthy white family. Here's why this book is a compelling read:

    • Explores intergenerational dynamics and the repercussions of long-hidden family secrets.
    • Addresses social issues with sensitivity, shedding light on uncomfortable truths about privilege and discrimination.
    • Weaves a multilayered narrative that keeps readers engaged and invested in the characters' fates.

    Who should read The Keepers of the House?

    • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and complex family dramas
    • Those interested in exploring the history and legacy of racism in the United States
    • Individuals who appreciate richly drawn characters and atmospheric storytelling

    About the Author

    Shirley Ann Grau is an American author known for her insightful and powerful storytelling. Throughout her career, she has written several acclaimed novels and short stories that explore the complexities of the American South. Grau's notable works include The Hard Blue Sky, The House on Coliseum Street, and Roadwalkers. With her keen understanding of human nature and her ability to capture the essence of the Southern experience, Grau has established herself as a significant voice in American literature.

    Categories with The Keepers of the House

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Keepers of the House FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Keepers of the House?

    The main message of The Keepers of the House is the complex intertwining of family, race, and heritage in the American South.

    How long does it take to read The Keepers of the House?

    Reading The Keepers of the House takes a few hours, while the Blinkist summary can be read in minutes.

    Is The Keepers of the House a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Keepers of the House is worth reading for its deep exploration of societal norms and family dynamics.

    Who is the author of The Keepers of the House?

    Shirley Ann Grau is the author of The Keepers of the House.

    What to read after The Keepers of the House?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Keepers of the House, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
    • The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago
    • Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee
    • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
    • One of Ours by Willa Cather
    • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
    • A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
    • Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
    • The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
    • Alanna by Tamora Pierce