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.
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).
New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
Instead of making all this feel inevitable, Ms. Robinson simply leaves the reader feeling that her characters are perversely choosing not to communicate, and as a result, her sad family drama feels less affecting than stage-managed, less tragic than unnecessary and contrived.
The Washington Post - Ron Charles
Even more than their stylistic beauty, what's miraculous about Gilead and Home is their explicit focus on spiritual affliction, discussed in the hard terms of Protestant theology.
Chicago Sun-Times - Mark Athitakis
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.
San Francisco Chronicle - Joan Frank Home offers such intricate characterizations, so many passages of surpassing wisdom and beauty, one yearns to quote page after page. It rejoices in the humblest actions - giving a haircut, weeding, making meals, coffee - the holiness of the daily. As handily as it fits Frost's famous lines, Home also calls to mind those of the late, entirely unreligious E.B. White: "All that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."
Comes astonishingly close to matching its amazing predecessor in beauty and power.
Starred Review. Robinson's beautiful new nove...stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home.
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, whose two small sons will carry their complicated heritage into the cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Marie from Maplewood Most moving books I've read in years. Both Home and her previous book were so memorable! To read the reactions of the characters from their perspectives to the same recounting of events in their lives was so skillfully accomplished! I became a witness to their lives. I need to know... Read More
Predestination 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 were not
Reverend Ames, a Congregationalist, and Reverend
Boughton, a Presbyterian, are both Calvinists, like
Marilynne Robinson herself. Predestination, a
principle tenet of Calvinism, refers to the belief
that humankind is born into...
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