I love the title of this book too. We have so many underlying notions about that word--many of those preconceptions come up in this book.
I kept thinking of The Secret Life of Bees (a book I particularly loathe) while reading this. In that book the main characters are also females in a situation that is a bit out of the mainstream, but that's where the similarity ends. Housekeeping is powerful where the other book is cheesy. This book deals with loneliness, expectation, and waiting and results in with a life-usually-does-not-give-you-what-you-expect ending. The Secret Life of Bees has an everything-works-out-in-the-end-if-you-just-believe-hard-enough ending.
Generally, books about women with female characters and a domestic plot line are more like Secret Life of Bees. I am glad Marilynne Robinson was able to give us something else.