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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on December 6, 2009
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. Unlike a writer like Chekhov, for example, where often the characters say things they don't mean, or can't say what they want to say, in this book what the characters do say is tendentious and repetitious. If you can grasp at subtleties and your imagination is stirred to fill in the blanks, then that is wonderful, but I did not feel the least desire to imagine anything much about these characters. I wish I could say something nicer about Robinson's book, because I am a fan, I could barely get through Home. It was a trying experience to read, and in the end, I found it simply a bore, about boring people.
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on December 8, 2009
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 winner posses. All that is left is a rather dreary story about rather dreary, and dare I say it, irritating characters. The Boughtons all got under my skin. The only character who is even remotely intriguing is Della, and this could be because she is only physically in the story for a few pages. I will concede that the last 10 pages or so are beautifully written and quite touching, but this in no way makes up for the blandness of the first 300.
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on March 3, 2009
Home by Marilynne Robinson is the story of the prodigal son. The son of an ailing minister returns home and settles into an uneasy relationship with the dying man and his grown, younger sister. I enjoyed the storyline of this book but found the plot to move very slowly and, ultimately, it left me wanting for more. There seemed to be a number of issues and stories that remained under the surface without being fully explained even at the end of the book. I finished the book but didn't really enjoy the slow pace and the unanswered questions.
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