Home Paperback – Large Print, Sep 1 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Robinson's beautiful new novel, a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, is an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son's return. The son is Jack Boughton, one of the eight children of Robert Boughton, the former Gilead, Iowa, pastor, who now, in 1957, is a widowed and dying man. Jack returns home shortly after his sister, 38-year-old Glory, moves in to nurse their father, and it is through Glory's eyes that we see Jack's drama unfold. When Glory last laid eyes on Jack, she was 16, and he was leaving Gilead with a reputation as a thief and a scoundrel, having just gotten an underage girl pregnant. By his account, he'd since lived as a vagrant, drunk and jailbird until he fell in with a woman named Della in St. Louis. By degrees, Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but when Jack's letters to Della are returned unopened, Glory has to deal with Jack's relapse into bad habits and the effect it has on their father. In giving an ancient drama of grace and perdition such a strong domestic setup, Robinson stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Home begins simply . . . and slowly grows in luxury--its last fifty pages are magnificently moving and richly pondered." -- The New Yorker --The New Yorker
"Robinson's work is morally complex, subtle, and she can be an extraordinary stylist, [her] words pitched precisely to effect." -- The Globe and Mail -- The Globe and Mail --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nonetheless, this is a powerful novel with moments of majesty and grace, all within the context of a muted domestic drama. The main characters are Glory Boughton, her aged father, and her wayward brothe Jack. Both Glory and Jack return home after long absences, setting off a painful process of attempted reconciliation and redemption. The power of this book is reduced by many scenes that are drawn out too long or just become unbelievably weighty.
Not a book for everyone therefore. I would recommend reading Robinson's novel Gilead before taking on this one.
I finally finished slogging my way through this book, and found it a highly unsatisfying experience. First, the characters are not well-rounded, and in the end, we know and understand very little about them, their motives, their inner feelings. And that's what the book is about, in essence. While I understand that perhaps this novel is not meant to be entirely realistic, it certainly seems to set itself up within the category of realism. But the characters address each other in ways that seem so restrained, so delicate, and indirect, that I found the dialogue to be maddeningly unbelievable. Can people in a family really speak to each other so that every nuance, every line they say is so calculated? It seemed almost ridiculously circumspect. Moreover, I found that it was hard to differentiate who was speaking to whom, because the characters are so lacking in depth and personality and interest. The plot, such as it is, uses delaying tactics to the big reveal, but then nothing much is revealed after 300 pages of a what felt like a long read. It is a matter of much too little, much too late. The coda was particularly lame and had a sense of being an afterthought meant to tie some loose ends together. I didn't care very much about what happened to these characters, because I didn't know who they were. It's a novel about forgiveness and acceptance and family ties, but I found myself incredulous that anyone could be as caring of every word they utter, and talk so much about the same subject over and over, without giving much real drama or tension. I appreciate subtlety and indirection, but this fell into an altogether different mode of not giving the reader enough to go on.Read more ›
After more than twenty years gone, she barely recognizes him - and a part of her resents his return, coming as it does at a time when the old man needs this connection so badly. But as time passes, she and Jack come to a deeper understanding of each other, revealing some of their own secrets that neither is eager to share with anyone.
Caring for their father together, fixing up the old homestead, which has become quite neglected in the past few years, they seemingly form a team...Protecting each other against the harshness of the life here, which remains the same, with the Reverend Ames sitting in judgment and the town folk glancing sidelong at Jack as if they half-expect him to steal from them...This is the reputation Jack once held, and his twenty-year abandonment of the family and any ties to this community, somehow reinforces this view. And Jack, self-deprecatory and doing nothing
to eradicate the image the townspeople hold of him, continues in his quiet way to try to make some kind of amends - on the home front and with the minister. Their father, too, a former minister, holds many beliefs that cast someone like Jack in a "sinner" role.
Slowly, the author peels away the layers that conceal the sadness and loss carried by these two, as they walk along the old familiar paths in the town and as they fall into the humble patterns of their youth in this home that is filled with memories of a time long ago...Dreams and loves and fantasies have been cast aside.Read more ›
'Home' brings the reader back to the same Boughton family at the same moments in time as 'Gilead'. We see the same characters from a different perspective and, as in Kurosawa's 'Rashomon', we learn that different viewpoints often reveal different truths. We come away caring even more about the feckless Jack, the dutiful Glory and their father Robert. This is a wonderful novel that deserves to be read but is probably best approached after having first taken on 'Gilead.'
Most recent customer reviews
I was heartily disappointed with Marilynne Robinson's latest fiction. It is similar to Gilead, but without all of the richness, complexity and roundedness that her Pulitzer Prize... Read morePublished on Dec 8 2009 by Bethann McLaren
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