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Home by Marilynne Robinson

Home (2008)

by Marilynne Robinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gilead (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
To enter this book is to enter a landscape of complete and utter psychological desolation.
"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." ( )
  grbeer | Mar 26, 2017 |
2008, MacMillian Audio, Read by Maggi-Meg Reed

Home takes place concurrently and in the same locale as its predecessor, Gilead – but this time we visit the household of the Reverend Robert Broughton, Ames’ closest friend. Glory Broughton, the Reverend’s eldest daughter at 38, has returned home to care for her dying father. And soon Jack, the long-lost prodigal son of the family, gone for two decades, comes home too – looking for refuge and attempting to make peace with his past, scarred with torment.

Jack is an alcoholic – a bad boy from childhood – who cannot hold a job. Thought he is his father’s most beloved child, their relationship is a most uneasy one: Jack ever at odds with his traditionalist father. He does form a moving bond with Glory while the two care for the aging patriarch – but she is unable to help him in any real way – in spite of his pleas that she help him stay sober.

Admittedly, Marilynne Robinson is not one of my favourite authors, but there is no doubt she can write! These are richly developed characters, particularly Jack, who is unforgettable. I disagree with the publisher’s summary in part: Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. I did not find much evidence of healing in the novel, save for perhaps the last quarter of it. But certainly family secrets abound, and it is a moving read about love, death, and faith. Recommended. ( )
2 vote lit_chick | Feb 20, 2017 |
I found this book hard to get into and hard to rate. It has some brilliant passages, to my mind, and some nebulous ones. Once past a kind of philosophical section near the beginning, the story begins in earnest. There are many things to like about the book and many that leave the reader with more questions than answers, not always a bad thing. But I found sections of it confusing or lacking. We never know what Jack really did to cause such heartache to everyone. It's alluded to for the most part. Specifics might have added some punch. His character is vulnerable, in some ways very like some alcoholics, and in other ways hard to believe.

I listened to this book on CD, and the reader did a great job with the father's voice. I had a real sense of who he was, what he was like, and a picture of him in my mind. I didn't get that with the other characters so much. And somehow, despite any negatives one might find, the story stays with you after you've read it. I loved part of what happened at the end. It's about grace as much as anything, grace within a family and very close friends. Grace and respect. Every family could do with more of that. ( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
"Home" is a companion piece to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gilead." While Gilead is told from the point of view of John Ames, a Congregationalist pastor and best friend to Presbyterian pastor Robert Boughton, "Home" takes place during the same period of time, but is told the the eyes of Boughton's youngest daughter Glory and centers on the return of her black sheep brother, Jack. Rev. Boughton has long grieved his wayward son, and his 20-year absence from home and separation from his family. Jack is always aware of his disreputable reputation and the wrongs he's committed to which he occasionally alludes. His sense of distance can't really be bridged.

There's very little action in the book, but an abundance of emotion and attempts to communicate and understand both the errors of the past and the possibilities for the future. Ultimately I found this book heartbreakingly sad. Like Gilead before it, this part of the story will stay with me always. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
Contemporary to the story of Robinson's previous novel, Gilead, Home focuses on Glory, a woman approaching 40, who has just finished with a long-standing, though ultimately deeply unsatisfying "engagement" with a married man. She has returned to the old family home in Gilead, where her father, a retired Presbyterian reverend is in need of lots of care, possibly on his way to death. There is a terribly resigned feeling to her decision, as if this is the end of her life too, with children no longer an option, and the possibilities and hopes of her life all but dissolved. Her father has letters from one of his eight children, the abberant one, Jack, that he might come to stay for a while. This excites the father terribly. He's desperate for his son, absent for 20 years, even missing his own mother's funeral, to return, but also anxious that this son, Jack, has somehow got himself into more trouble, as is his habit.

After various fits and starts Jack does arrive for a visit, formal and distant, guarded, though respectful. He too seems to be escaping a failed relationship, though his seems more solid, and more is lost, if it really is over, which he doesn't believe. So he waits, sending letters, helping to look after his disapproving father, as his relationship with Glory steadily becomes closer. There is little more to the plot of this story, beyond the repeated monotony of days half-hiding from the world, and tending to a sick old man. But despite this, the novel is incredibly engrossing, because Robinson is such a wonderful, close, subtle study of the human condition. Her style is usually sparse and clear, though occasionally it sparks into lyrical fire. The style is perfectly suited to communicate so much - of the bitterness and oppressing sense of guilt Jack has, for being Jack, really, but also because he is an atheist surrounded by Christians. All his life he's been the black sheep, but really because he was probably the brightest of the bunch, the most free thinking. Perhaps he would also have been the most successful if his father hadn't tried to force him into his own image. Instead, that domineering religiously misguided attempt at dictating a child's life created rebellion and self-destruction, which still continues in Jack in his 40's.

There is so much psychologically to unpack on every page, both in terms of the characters' current thoughts, but also their past decisions and mistakes. What sets Robinson apart as a truly great writer, however, is that this mental world, although regularly implicit, is nevertheless surprisingly clear.

At the same time, the Christian theme figures heavily. Had I not known Robinson was a practicing Christian, I would have assumed it was written by an atheist. Jack, the non-believer, seems to be the kindest of the bunch. The two reverends, his own father, and his father's best friend are, on occasion, positively cruel to him. He occasionally, perhaps for a touch of revenge, discusses theological issues with them. But those issues he chooses seem to make a clear case for Christianity being broken (predestination negating sin and one approved-of punishment for the sins of the father seeming to be the suffering of his (innocent) children). So, if anything, this novel is a story opposing religion. But of course, this is too intelligent a novel to provide such a simple answer.

This is far from a happy novel. It centres on a dying old man, and two semi-washed out middle aged children, who are depressive in their own ways, and seriously questioning what pleasures life has left for them. And yet, there is something uplifting about it because it creates something that feels so very real. In this way it is brilliant, beguiling, and close to a masterpiece. ( )
  RachDan | Nov 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
The glories of Gilead - and of Housekeeping, for that matter - have not quite found their way into Home. One reason for this may be Robinson's decision to write in the third person for the first time, thus suppressing one of her great gifts, which is the mix of wryness, wisdom and self-deprecation with which she infused her first two narrators' voices.
But what remains is Gilead's sense of how character, however unkindly, determines one's fate, which in Home arrives silently but powerfully, like a glacier leaving a raw gash in the landscape. Robinson's output may also be glacial, but the force her words leave in her wake is unmistakable.
added by melmore | editNPR, Lizzie Skurnick (Sep 19, 2008)
These ugly facts [of small-town racism] complicate the beauty of “Home,” but the way Robinson embeds them in the novel is part of what makes it so beautiful. It is a book unsparing in its acknowledgment of sin and unstinting in its belief in the possibility of grace. 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.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, A. O. Scott (Sep 19, 2008)
The Reverend Boughton, is in decline. Glory, the youngest of his eight children, has come home to care for him, and both are grateful and alarmed when Jack, the prodigal son, reappears after an excruciating 20-year absence. Once a charming scoundrel, Jack is now riddled with regrets and despair. As she cares for two broken men struggling toward reconciliation and redemption, Glory is a paragon of patience, a virtue readers also must cultivate as Robinson follows an austere narrative regime, confining the reader to the day-by-day present and the Boughton home. Household chores are infused with metaphysical implications, while what is not said carries more weight than what is spoken. Robinson wrestles with moral dilemmas ordinary and catastrophic, and ponders the mystery of why human beings never feel wholly at home on earth. This is a rigorous, sometimes claustrophobic, yet powerfully spiritual novel of anguish and prayer, wisdom and beauty, penance and hope.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist, Donna Seaman

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robinson, Marilynneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Noah and Elise and for Beatrice
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"Home to stay, Glory! Yes!" her father said, and her heart sank.
The house embodied for him the general blessedness of his life, which was manifest, really indisputable. And which he never failed to acknowledge, especially when it stood over against particular sorrow. Even more frequently after their mother died he spoke of the house as if it were an old wife, beautiful for every comfort it had offered, ever grace, through all the long years. It was a beauty that would not be apparent to every eye.
”Yes,” the old man said, as he did when memory stirred. “Those were good times.”
No, it's a feeling I have always had, almost since you were a baby. As though there was something you needed from me and I never figured out what it was. … I just never knew another child who didn't feel at home in the house where he was born.
They had always been so careful of him, almost afraid to touch him. There was an aloofness about him more thoroughgoing than modesty or reticence. It was feral, and fragile. It had enforced a peculiar decorum on them all, even on their mother. There was always the moment when they acknowledged this – no hugging, no roughhousing could include him. Even his father patted his shoulder tentatively, shy and cautious. Whey should a child have defended his loneliness that way? But let him have his ways, their father said, or he would be gone. He'd smile at them across that distance, and the smile was sad and hard, and it meant estrangement, even when he was with them.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374299102, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: "What does it mean to come home?" In one way or another, every character in Home is searching for that answer. Glory Boughton, now 38 and lovelorn, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Her wayward brother Jack also finds his way back, though his is an uneasy homecoming, reverberating with the scandal that drove him away twenty years earlier. Glory and Jack unravel their stories slowly, speaking to each other more in movements than in words--a careful glance here, a chair pulled out from the table there--against a domestic backdrop so richly imagined you may be fooled into believing their house is your own. Meanwhile, their father, whose ebullient love for his children is a welcome counterpoint to Glory and Jack's conflicted emotions, experiences his own kind of reckoning as he yearns to understand his troubled son. There is a simplicity to this story that belies the complexity of its characters--they are bound together by a profound capacity for love and by an equally powerful sense of private conviction that tries the ties that bind, but never breaks them. It's a delicate sort of tension that you think would resist exposition--and in fact these characters seem to want nothing more than, as Glory says, to treat "one another's deceptions like truth"--but Marilynne Robinson's fine, tender prose imbues this family's secrets with an overwhelming grace. --Anne Bartholomew

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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