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Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
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Home: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Marilynne Robinson

Series: Gilead (2)

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2,2361112,872 (3.95)498
Member:Goodlit
Title:Home: A Novel
Authors:Marilynne Robinson
Info:Picador (2009), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, female author, Orange Prize, 21st century, USA

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Home by Marilynne Robinson (2008)

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English (112)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
Accomplished writing, 20 Jun. 2012
By
sally tarbox

This review is from: Home (Paperback)
A story of a few months in the life of frail elderly Reverend Boughton in 1950s Iowa; his daughter Glory, having had disappointments in her own life, comes home to care for him, followed shortly after by her complex alcoholic brother Jack. Very little happens really, the significance is in the conversations and development of the characters - somehow it put me in mind of Ivy Compton-Burnett's style.
It took me quite a while to get into the non-action and care about the characters, but I would certainly give the other books in the trilogy a go. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
While Gilead is Reverend Ames' pure, tender, loving reflections on his life and family, Home explores an equally contemplative and more complicated aspect of family relationships - the bittersweet joys slithering through the cracks of irredeemable regrets, unappreciated sacrifices, and unspoken tensions - through the return of Boughton's prodigal son. The novel's most striking difference, after reading Housekeeping and Gilead, is the narrator voice: no longer first person but third and not addressed to the reader. Other than that, the themes and moods the author is known for deploying to full effect are all still here.

That the most troublesome son should also be the most beloved is fertile ground for the novel's expert depiction of complex family relationships. Even though most of the story revolves around Jack, Glory is the stand out character for me. The way we are privy to her lamentations and aspirations: her hidden and unacknowledged resentment of having to be the one to take care of their father but only because of the lost life she is also mourning for, the intricacy of her being grateful for Jack's help with their ailing father but also knowing her presence and continual help is being under-appreciated, her loyalties torn between wanting to condemn Jack and also seeking his approval, the difficulty of which is compounded by her status as the youngest child. Also heartbreaking, while being additionally simultaneously endearing is all of Robert's unadulterated joyful exclamations.

For maximum enjoyment and minimal disappointment of the novel, don't approach it expecting it to be another Gilead. Treat the appearances of Ames as a bit of stunt background casting, "hey, we know him!", like the little gifts they are. And definitely read Glead first. ( )
  kitzyl | Apr 23, 2016 |
This strange and beautiful book is a companion piece to Ms. Robinson's wonderful "Gilead", a tough act to follow. "Home" succeeds, moving the focus from the family of Congregationalist minister John Ames to that of his closest friend, Robert Boughton, a Presbyterian minister; like "Gilead", it is set in Iowa in the 1950's. Like Ames, Boughton is nearing the end of his life, but while Ames is focussed on his young son, still a boy, Boughton's attention is riveted on his 40ish son Jack, a prodigal who has returned to the family home after 20 years away. Boughton's 38-year old daughter Glory has also returned to the nest, to care for her failing father, and in flight from a long-term relationship that didn't work out. The novel charts the evolving relationships among these three, with what they say and don't say and can't say to one another, and with their private sufferings. Reverend Ames and his family appear, enhancing for this reader the sense of "home", with all the mixed emotions that can involve.

"Home" is beautifully written, and compellingly plotted, despite the fact that not all that much actually happens -- on the outside, at least. The book is about love, and the failure of love to solve everything, and forgiveness, and race. It is also very specifically about religion, specifically the Protestantism of the mainstream American sects. I think this is a book readers will love, or dislike intensely. Give it a try. ( )
  annbury | Apr 6, 2016 |
While this is the second in the "Gilead" trilogy, you wouldn't have to have read Gilead in order to understand what happens in this book - for two particular reasons. Reason #1: The novel focuses on the Boughtons, the neighbors of the Ames family from the previous book. #2: The events of this book run concurrently to those in Gilead. This story is not a continuation of that story.

That being said, if you read Gilead before you read Home, you'll have more context and insight into some of the interactions and family dynamics that are so prevalent. With particular regard to one of the Boughton children, you get a much richer and fuller picture of his struggles upon returning home, if you have read Gilead and Home. But it is still a very worthwhile book on its own, and can stand on its own merits. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
Beautifully written story of John "Jack" Boughton, prodigal son of a Presbyterian preacher, namesake and godson of another preacher who comes home to try to find some peace and healing. I really felt like the story was as much about his 38-yr-old sister, Glory, who has living at the family home, caring for her dying father. Having Jack around helps Glory deal with her ghosts--a broken engagement, a complicated relationship with Jack, the death of a niece. In the end, only one person seems to have found any kind of real peace. Robinson does use the events in this book so set up for another book (in the same way that this is companion to "Gilead").

( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (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
First words
"Home to stay, Glory! Yes!" her father said, and her heart sank.
Quotations
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)

(summary from another edition)

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