Martha Crunkleton, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Martha Crunkleton)
Of the ninety-five books I read in 2011, this was the best. It is an understatement to say "it is well-written". Robinson creates a family, a town, a culture so vividly that the story itself seems to emerge naturally, as if "plot" were the last thing anyone would ever think about while reading. Acceptance, loss, our tendency to imagine perfections we cannot achieve, and our subsequent suffering are themes of any great novel---here they emerge in a little town in the midwest in a family whose members each are idealistic, but in very differing ways.
desertmuse, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by desertmuse)
How much do members of a family really know one another? How much CAN we know about another human being. And what, if anything, do we "owe" those who are our family. Marilynne Robinson explores these questions in a beautifully written exploration of whether or not one can come home and if it's ever a good idea to try.
FBB, July 12, 2009 (view all comments by FBB)
While the narrative drags slowly in some parts of the novel, the ending is so very much worth the wait. And it was in those last chapters that I became spellbound by it. I highly recommend it, especially to those who are willing to read less for plot than for grace and beauty.
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Marcus, April 28, 2009 (view all comments by Marcus)
John James is the narrator of GILEAD. He is the Congregationalist minister in Gilead, Iowa and we see him as serious, kind and wise. He seems almost perfect, but he has some imperfections he struggles with. The novel is actually a letter to his young son and we follow the dying man as he reflect on his life, philosophy, scripture and anything else that comes to mind and one of the things that comes to mind is the homecoming of his namesake -- John, called Jack, Boughton -- the son of his friend, Robert Boughton, who is the Presbyterian minister in Gilead.
This is the same story retold, made more real, at least for me, because it's told in the third person point of view from the viewpoint of Robert Boughon's youngest daughter, Glory, who is also Jack's younger sister. Glory is an unmarried English teacher, who has come home to take care of her father, who is also old and ill. The ministers are close and so it's only fitting that these two books are as well. I love them both.
John Ames Boughton, Jack, has returned after twenty years away. He'd been wicked and wild and Ames at times worries that Jack is paying two much attention to Lila, his young wife. But Jack isn't after Lila, he's got plenty on his mind to keep him occupied and if you've read Gilead before this, you'll know what, but it you haven't it won't be a shocker, because it's 2008, but either way you'll enjoy this book.
I could just keep going, talking on and on about these two books, about how much I liked the writing, because it's just so divine. I must admit that I am wondering if Marilynn Robinson is planning a third novel about these events told from Jack's point of view. I know I'd be lining up to buy it.
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Set in the same time and place as Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's new masterpiece is at once profoundly sad and hopeful.
by Nathan W.,
Where Gilead was an introspective masterpiece of reflection and contemplation, Home is a refreshingly honest portrait of familial relationships over time. Robinson carefully breathes life into these characters with each passing sentence, until by the end of the book you are completely immersed in the Boughton family's travails, and in love with every single one of them. Here is one family you'll never forget, written by an author who somehow manages (amazingly) to get better with each book.
by Nathan W.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Claire Messud, the New York Review of Books,
"Home is a companion piece to Gilead, an account of the same time (the summer of 1956), in the same place (Gilead, Iowa), with the same cast of characters as the earlier novel. Each book is strengthened and deepened by a reading of the other. It is tempting, indeed, to liken them to the gospels, dovetailing versions of the same epiphanic experiences, each with its particular revelations, omissions, and emphases; except that instead of telling the stories of Christ, Robinson's novels tell those of the all-too-human antihero, the struggling prodigal son, Jack Boughton." (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
"Robinson wrestles with moral dilemmas ordinary and catastrophic....[A] rigorous, sometimes claustrophobic, yet powerfully spiritual novel of anguish and prayer, wisdom and beauty, penance and hope."
by Library Journal,
"Fans of Gilead will be grateful for this expansion of the story — and for its closing hint of a possible return to the extended Ames/Boughton families....Highly recommended."
by The Christian Science Monitor,
"[A] thoughtful, exceedingly patient, examination of the nature of grace and perdition. It's a measure of her abilities that, even though a reader knows precisely what's coming, she's able to break hearts all over again."
by Los Angeles Times,
"One of the pleasures of reading Home is Robinson's light touch with what readers may already know from a sojourn in Gilead....If I cannot do Home justice in describing it, I can, at least, commend it to you with my whole heart."
by The Portland Oregonian,
"Not all that much happens in Home and yet the scenes are brilliantly delineated....This is the pleasure of Home: witnessing these people learn, painfully, to tend to the soul — their own souls and those of the ones they love."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"Home lacks the fablelike intensity and visual, metaphoric dazzle of her much-loved first novel, Housekeeping....[A] static, even suffocating narrative in which very little is dramatized...and it makes the characters, especially Jack, seem terribly self-absorbed."
by The Chicago Sun-Times,
"If Home is a lesser novel than Gilead, it still calls up the surpassing gracefulness of Robinson's best writing, as well as its — there's no better word — spirit."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead pens a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations.
A moving novel about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who brought us Gilead.
WINNER OF THE ORANGE PRIZE 2009
A 2008 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
A New York Times Bestseller
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
Hailed as "incandescent," "magnificent," and "a literary miracle" (Entertainment Weekly), hundreds of thousands of readers were enthralled by Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. Now Robinson returns with a brilliantly imagined retelling of the prodigal son parable, set at the same moment and in the same Iowa town as Gilead. The Reverend Boughton's hell-raising son, Jack, has come home after twenty years away. Artful and devious in his youth, now an alcoholic carrying two decades worth of secrets, he is perpetually at odds with his traditionalist father, though he remains his most beloved child. As Jack tries to make peace with his father, he begins to forge an intense bond with his sister Glory, herself returning home with a broken heart and turbulent past. Home is a luminous and healing book about families, family secrets, and faith from one of America's most beloved and acclaimed authors.
Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend. Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack--the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years--comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain. Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake. Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. It is Robinson's greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions. Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Gilead--winner of the Pulitzer Prize--and Housekeeping, and Home and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Winner of the Orange PrizeA National Book Critics Circle Award FinalistA National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner of the Christianity Today Book Award
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year
A Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Marilynne Robinson returns to the small town in Iowa where her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gilead, was set. Home is an entirely independent novel that is set concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend. Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack--the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years--comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with ongoing trouble and pain. Jack, a bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake. Their story is one of families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love, death, faith, and healing. It is a book unsparing in its acknowledgement of sin and unstinting in its belief in the possibility of grave. It is at once hard and forgiving, bitter and joyful, fanatical and serene. It is a wild, eccentric radical work of literature that grows out of the broadest, most fertile, most familiar native literary tradition. What a strange old book it is.--The New York Times Book Review
Home is a companion piece to Gilead, an account of the same time (the summer of 1956), in the same place (Gilead, Iowa), with the same cast of characters as the earlier novel. Each book is strengthened and deepened by a reading of the other . . . The two books, different in their form and approach as well as in the details they reveal and the stories they ultimately tell, are an enactment of humanity's broader dance of ever-attempted, ever-failing communication--through a glass darkly. This is not, of itself, a novel endeavor for the novel (Edith Wharton once wrote, with lyrical concise wit, 'I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story'); rather it is the gravitas and patience with which Robinson, whose 1998 book of essays The Death of Adam revealed her rigorous Christian spiritual inquiry, has, in these two novels, channeled that rigor in fictional form; the result is two works of art of impressively unfashionable seriousness and engagement . . . Robinson, throughout Home, is tackling almost the opposite of what she undertook in Gilead: rather than granting a direct and illuminated voice to a single, thoughtful soul, she stands back--writing in the third person, albeit in a third person that privileges Glory's point of view--and allows her characters to perform their small daily rituals, to have their conversations, to live through their misunderstandings, each in his or her particular isolation. Crucially, she allows at least very distinct experiences--that of the devout, to which John Ames, Robert Boughton, and even Glory could be said to belong; and Jack's secular universe--to interact with one another, each with its own language and its own jurisprudence . . . What is remarkable about Home--and why it is, to this reader, an even stronger accomplishment than its companion volume; not in spite of its longueurs and its repetitiveness but because of them--is that it is both a spiritual and a mundane accounting.--Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books
Home is a book full of doubleness and paradox, at once serene and volcanic, ruthless and forgiving. It is an anguished pastoral, a tableau of decency and compassion that is also an angry and devastating indictment of moral cowardice and unrepentant, unacknowledged sin. It would be inaccurate to say that the novel represents yet another breathless expose of religious hypocrisy, or a further excavation of the dark secrets that s
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