Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead Marilynne Robinsons Pulitzer Prizewinning 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, Amess closest friend.
Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jackthe prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty yearscomes 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 Boughtons 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 Robinsons greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions.
"Home to stay, Glory! Yes!" her father said, and her heart sank. He attempted a twinkle of joy at this thought, but his eyes were damp with commiseration. "To stay for a while this time!" he amended, and took her bag from her, first shifting his cane to his weaker hand. Dear God, she thought, dear God in heaven. So began and ended all her prayers these days, which were really cries of amazement. How could her father be so frail? And how could he be so recklessly intent on satisfying his notions of gentlemanliness, hanging his cane on the railing of the stairs so he could, dear God, carry her bag up to her room? But he did it, and then he stood by the door, collecting himself.
"This is the nicest room. According to Mrs. Blank." He indicated the windows. "Cross ventilation. I dont know. They all seem nice to me." He laughed. "Well, its a good house." The house embodied for him the general blessedness of his life, which was manifest, really indisputable. And...
Even in disgrace, Jack projects an irresistible charm, and I couldn't help but bleed for him as he repeatedly attempts to make peace with his dying father only to enflame old wounds. But to focus on Jack's tortured soul, as so many reviewers have done, is to duplicate an injury that Robinson condemns within the novel—that of overlooking and taking for granted the state of Glory's soul. It is she who comes to know Jack better than anyone in the family, and it is her emotional wisdom that saves him day after day. Because Robinson narrates the action from within Glory's perspective, it is perhaps most accurate to say that Home is the story not of a prodigal son but of a sister's loving, faltering attempt to bring the prodigal son back into the family.
(Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Full Review (1174 words).
One of the crucial scenes in Home, a scene so important that it repeats and vastly expands on a scene from Gilead, occurs when John Ames and his wife Lila visit the Boughtons for dinner, and Jack discomfits them all by pressing Reverend Ames for his views on the doctrine of predestination. "Do you think some people are intentionally and irretrievably consigned to perdition?" he asks. He continues, "I've wondered from time to time if I might not be an instance of predestination. A sort of proof. If I may not experience predestination in my own person. That would be interesting, if the consequences ...
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