by Marilynne Robinson

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312428549
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Series: Gilead Series , #2
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 142,152
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

MARILYNNE ROBINSON is the author of the novels Gilead, Housekeeping, and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.


Iowa City, Iowa

Date of Birth:

November 26, 1943

Place of Birth:

Sandpoint, Idaho


B.A., Brown University, 1966

Read an Excerpt

"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 don’t know. They all seem nice to me." He laughed. "Well, it’s a good house." 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, every grace, through all the long years. It was a beauty that would not be apparent to every eye. It was too tall for the neighborhood, with a flat face and a flattened roof and peaked brows over the windows. "Italianate," her father said, but that was a guess, or a rationalization. In any case, it managed to look both austere and pretentious despite the porch her father had had built on the front of it to accommodate the local taste for socializing in the hot summer evenings, and which had become overgrown by an immense bramble of trumpet vines. It was a good house, her father said, meaning that it had a gracious heart however awkward its appearance. And now the gardens and the shrubbery were disheveled, as he must have known, though he rarely ventured beyond the porch.

Not that they had been especially presentable even while the house was in its prime. Hide-and-seek had seen to that, and croquet and badminton and baseball. "Such times you had!" her father said, as if the present slight desolation were confetti and candy wrappers left after the passing of some glorious parade. And there was the oak tree in front of the house, much older than the neighborhood or the town, which made rubble of the pavement at its foot and flung its imponderable branches out over the road and across the yard, branches whose girths were greater than the trunk of any ordinary tree. There was a torsion in its body that made it look like a giant dervish to them. Their father said if they could see as God can, in geological time, they would see it leap out of the ground and turn in the sun and spread its arms and bask in the joys of being an oak tree in Iowa. There had once been four swings suspended from those branches, announcing to the world the fruitfulness of their household. The oak tree flourished still, and of course there had been and there were the apple and cherry and apricot trees, the lilacs and trumpet vines and the day lilies. A few of her mother’s irises managed to bloom. At Easter she and her sisters could still bring in armfuls of flowers, and their father’s eyes would glitter with tears and he would say, "Ah yes, yes," as if they had brought some memento, these flowers only a pleasant reminder of flowers.

Why should this staunch and upright house seem to her so abandoned? So heartbroken? The eye of the beholder, she thought. Still, seven of her father’s children came home as often as they could manage to, and telephoned, and sent notes and gifts and crates of grapefruit. Their own children, from the time they could grasp a crayon and scrawl, were taught to remember Grandpa, then Great-grandpa. Parishioners and their children and grandchildren looked in on her father with a faithfulness that would have taxed his strength if the new minister had not hinted at the problem. And there was Ames, her father’s alter ego, in whom he had confided so long and so utterly that he was a second father to them all, not least in the fact of knowing more about them than was entirely consistent with their comfort. Sometimes they made their father promise not to tell anyone, by which he knew they meant Reverend Ames, since he was far too discreet to repeat any confidence, except in the confessional of Ames’s stark bachelor kitchen, where, they suspected, such considerations were forgotten. And what was their father not to tell? How they informed on Jack, telling him what Jack had said, what Jack had done or seemed inclined to do.

"I have to know," their father said. "For his sake." So they told on their poor scoundrel brother, who knew it, and was irritated and darkly amused, and who kept them informed or misinformed and inspired urgent suspicions among them which they felt they had to pass on, whatever their misgivings, to spare their father having to deal with the sheriff again. They were not the kind of children to carry tales. They observed a strict code against it among themselves, in fact, and they made an exception of Jack only because they were afraid to do otherwise. "Will they put him in jail?" they asked one another miserably when the mayor’s son found his hunting rifle in their barn. If they had only known, they could have returned it and spared their father surprise and humiliation. At least with a little warning he could have composed himself, persuaded himself to feel something less provocative than pure alarm.

But no, they did not put him in jail. Jack, standing beside his father, made yet another apology and agreed to sweep the steps of the city hall every morning for a week. And he did leave the house early every morning. Leaves and maple wings accumulated at city hall until the week was over and the mayor swept them up. No. His father would always intercede for him. The fact that his father was his father usually made intercession unnecessary. And that boy could apologize as fluently as any of the rest of the Boughtons could say the Apostles’ Creed.

A decade of betrayals, minor and major, was made worse by awareness on every side that they were all constantly alert to transgression and its near occasion, and made worse still by the fact that Jack never repaid them in kind, though this may only have been because their own mischief was too minor to interest him. To say they shared a bad conscience about Jack to this day would be to overstate the matter a little. No doubt he had his own reasons for staying away all these years, refusing all contact with them. Assuming, please God, he was alive. It was easy to imagine in retrospect that Jack might have tired of it all, even though they knew he made a somber game of it. Sometimes he had seemed to wish he could simply trust a brother, a sister. They remembered that from time to time he had been almost candid, had spoken almost earnestly. Then he would laugh, but that might have been embarrassment.

They were attentive to their father all those years later, in part because they were mindful of his sorrow. And they were very kind to one another, and jovial, and fond of recalling good times and looking through old photographs so that their father would laugh and say, "Yes, yes, you were quite a handful." All this might have been truer because of bad conscience, or, if not that, of a grief that felt like guilt. Her good, kind, and jovial siblings were good, kind, and jovial consciously and visibly. Even as children they had been good in fact, but also in order to be seen as good. There was something disturbingly like hypocrisy about it all, though it was meant only to compensate for Jack, who was so conspicuously not good as to cast a shadow over their household. They were as happy as their father could wish, even happier. Such gaiety! And their father laughed at it all, danced with them to the Victrola, sang with them around the piano. Such a wonderful family they were! And Jack, if he was there at all, looked on and smiled and took no part in any of it.

Now, as adults, they were so careful to gather for holidays that Glory had not seen the house empty and quiet in years, since she was a girl. Even when the others had all gone off to school her mother was there, and her father was still vigorous enough to make a little noise in the house with coming and going, singing, grumbling. "I don’t know why he has to slam that door!" her mother would say, when he was off to tend to some pastoral business or to play checkers with Ames. He almost skipped down the steps. The matter of Jack and the girl and her baby stunned him, winded him, but he was still fairly robust, full of purpose. Then, after his frailty finally overwhelmed him, and after their mother died, there was still the throng of family, the bantering and bickering child cousins who distracted and disrupted adult conversation often enough to ward off inquiry into the specifics of her own situation. Still teaching, still engaged to be married, yes, long engagements are best. Twice the fiancé had actually come home with her, had shaken hands all around and smiled under their tactful scrutiny. He had been in their house. He could stay only briefly, but he had met her father, who claimed to like him well enough, and this had eased suspicions a little. Theirs and hers. Now here she was alone with poor old Papa, sad old Papa, upon whose shoulder much of Presbyterian Gilead above the age of twenty had at some time wept. No need to say anything, and no hope of concealing anything either.

The town seemed different to her, now that she had returned there to live. She was thoroughly used to Gilead as the subject and scene of nostalgic memory. How all the brothers and sisters except

Jack had loved to come home, and how ready they always were to leave again. How dear the old place and the old stories were to them, and how far abroad they had scattered. The past was a very fine thing, in its place. But her returning now, to stay, as her father said, had turned memory portentous. To have it overrun its bounds this way and become present and possibly future, too—they all knew this was a thing to be regretted. She rankled at the thought of their commiseration.

Most families had long since torn down their outbuildings and sold off their pastures. Smaller houses in later styles had sprung up between them in sufficient numbers to make the old houses look increasingly out of place. The houses of Gilead had once stood on small farmsteads with garden patches and berry patches and henhouses, with woodsheds, rabbit hutches, and barns for the cow or two, the horse or two. These were simply the things life required. It was the automobile that changed that, her father said. People didn’t have to provide for themselves the way they once did. It was a loss—there was nothing like chicken droppings to make flowers thrive.

Boughtons, who kept everything, had kept their land, their empty barn, their useless woodshed, their unpruned orchard and horseless pasture. There on the immutable terrain of their childhood her brothers and sisters could and did remember those years in great detail, their own memories, but more often the pooled memory they saw no special need to portion out among them. They looked at photographs and went over the old times and laughed, and their father was well pleased.

Boughton property lay behind the house in a broad strip that spanned two blocks, now that the town had grown and spread enough to have blocks. For years a neighbor—they still called him Mr. Trotsky because Luke, home from college, had called him that—planted alfalfa on half of it, and her father sometimes tried to find words for his irritation about this. "If he would just ask me," he said. She was too young at the time to understand the alfalfa putsch, and she was in college when she began to see what R the old stories meant, that they were really the stirring and smoldering of old fires that had burned furiously elsewhere. It pleased her to think that Gilead was part of the world she read about, and she wished she had known Mr. Trotsky and his wife, but old as they were, they had abandoned Gilead to its folly in a fit of indignation about which no one knew the particulars, just at the end of her sophomore year.

The land that was the battlefield would have been unused if the neighbor had not farmed it, and alfalfa was good for the soil, and the joke and perhaps the fact was that the neighbor, who seemed otherwise unemployed and who railed against the cash nexus, donated his crop to a rural cousin, who in exchange donated to him a certain amount of money. In any case, her father could never finally persuade himself that objection was called for. The neighbor was also an agnostic and probably spoiling for an ethical argument. Her father seemed to feel he could not risk losing another one of those, after the embarrassing episode when he tried to prevent the town from putting a road through his land, on no better grounds than that his father would have opposed it, and his grandfather. He had realized this during a long night when his belief in the rightness of his position dissipated like mist, under no real scrutiny. There was simply the moment, a little after 10:00 p.m., when the realization came, and then the seven hours until dawn. His case looked no better by daylight, so he wrote a letter to the mayor, simple and dignified, making no allusion to the phrase "grasping hypocrite," which he had thought he heard the mayor mutter after him as he walked away from a conversation he had considered pleasant enough. He told all of them about this at the dinner table and used it more than once as a sermon illustration, since he did devoutly believe that when the Lord gave him moral instruction it was not for his use only.

Each spring the agnostic neighbor sat his borrowed tractor with the straight back and high shoulders of a man ready to be challenged. Unsociable as he was, he called out heartily to passersby like a man with nothing to hide, intending, perhaps, to make the Reverend Boughton know, and know the town at large knew, too, that he was engaged in trespass. This is the very act against which Christians leveraged the fate of their own souls, since they were, if they listened to their own prayers, obliged to forgive those who trespassed against them.

Her father lived in a visible state of irritation until the crop was in, but he was willing to concede the point. He knew the neighbor was holding him up to public embarrassment year after year, seed time and harvest, not only to keep fresh the memory of his ill-considered opposition to the road, but also to be avenged in some small degree for the whole, in his agnostic view unbroken, history of religious hypocrisy.

Once, five of the six younger Boughtons—Jack was elsewhere— played a joyless and determined game of fox and geese in the tender crop of alfalfa, the beautiful alfalfa, so green it was almost blue, so succulent that a mist stood on its tiny leaves even in the middle of the day. They were not conscious of the craving for retaliation until Dan ran out into the field to retrieve a baseball, and Teddy ran after him, and Hope and Gracie and Glory after them. Somebody shouted fox and geese, and they all ran around to make the great circle, and then to make the diameters, breathless, the clover breaking so sweetly under their feet that they repented of the harm they were doing even as they persisted in it. They slid and fell in the vegetable mire and stained their knees and their hands, until the satisfactions of revenge were outweighed in their hearts by the knowledge that they were deeply in trouble. They played on until they were called to supper. When they trooped into the kitchen in a reek of child sweat and bruised alfalfa, their mother made a sharp sound in her throat and called, "Robert, look what we have here." The slight satisfaction in their father’s face confirmed what they dreaded, that he saw the opportunity to demonstrate Christian humility in such an unambiguous form that the neighbor could feel it only as rebuke.

He said, "Of course you will have to apologize." He looked almost stern, only a little amused, only a little gratified. "You had better get it over with," he said. As they knew, an apology freely offered would have much more effect than one that might seem coerced by the offended party, and since the neighbor was a short-tempered man, the balance of relative righteousness could easily tip against them. So the five of them walked by way of the roads to the other side of the block. Somewhere along the way Jack caught up and walked along with them, as if penance must always include him.

They knocked at the door of the small brown house and the wife opened it. She seemed happy enough to see them, and not at all surprised. She asked them in, mentioning with a kind of regret the smell of cooking cabbage. The house was sparsely furnished and crowded with books, magazines, and pamphlets, the arrangements having a provisional feeling though the couple had lived there for years. There were pictures pinned to the walls of bearded, unsmiling men and women with rumpled hair and rimless glasses.

Teddy said, "We’re here to apologize."

She nodded. "You trampled the field. I know that. He knows, too. I’ll tell him you have come." She spoke up the stairs, perhaps in a foreign language, listened for a minute to nothing audible, and came back to them. "To destroy is a great shame," she said.

"To destroy for no reason." Teddy said, "That is our field. I mean, my father does own it."

"Poor child!" she said. "You know no better than this, to speak of owning land when no use is made of it. Owning land just to keep it from others. That is all you learn from your father the priest! Mine, mine, mine! While he earns his money from the ignorance of the people!" She waved a slender arm and a small fist. "Telling his foolish lies again and again while everywhere the poor suffer!"

They had never heard anyone speak this way before, certainly not to them or about them. She stared at them to drive her point home. There was convincing rage and righteousness in her eyes, watery blue as they were, and Jack laughed.

"Oh yes," she said, "I know who you are. The boy thief, the boy drunkard! While your father tells the people how to live! He deserves you!" Then, "Why so quiet? You have never heard the truth before?"

Daniel, the oldest of them, said, "You shouldn’t talk that way. If you were a man, I’d probably have to hit you."

"Hah! Yes, you good Christians, you come into my house to threaten violence! I will report you to the sheriff. There is a little justice, even in America!" She waved her fist again.

Jack laughed. He said, "It’s all right. Let’s go home." And she said, "Yes, listen to your brother. He knows about the sheriff!"

So they trooped out the door, which was slammed after them, and filed home in the evening light absorbing what they had heard. They agreed that the woman was crazy and her husband, too. Still, vengefulness stirred in them, and there was talk of breaking windows, letting air out of tires. Digging a pit so large and well concealed that the neighbor and his tractor would both fall in. And there would be spiders at the bottom, and snakes. And when he yelled for help they would lower a ladder with the rungs sawed through so that they would break under his weight. Ah, the terrible glee among the younger ones, while the older ones absorbed the fact that they had heard their family insulted and had done nothing about it.

They walked into their own kitchen, and there were their mother and father, waiting to hear their report. They told them that they didn’t speak to the man, but the woman had yelled at them and had called their father a priest.

"Well," their mother said, "I hope you were polite."

They shrugged and looked at each other. Gracie said, "We just sort of stood there."

Jack said, "She was really mean. She even said you deserved me."

Her father’s eyes stung. He said, "Did she say that? Well now, that was kind of her. I will be sure to thank her. I hope I do deserve you, Jack. All of you, of course." That tireless tenderness of his, and Jack’s unreadable quiet in the face of it.

Mr. Trotsky planted potatoes and squash the next year, corn the year after that. A nephew of the rural cousin came to help him with his crop, and in time was given the use of the field and built a small house on one corner of it and brought a wife there, and they had children. More beds of marigolds, another flapping clothesline, another roof pitched under heaven to shelter human hope and frailty. The Boughtons tacitly ceded all claim.

Excerpted from Home by Marilynne Robinson

Copyright © 2008 by Marilynne Robinson

Published in September 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Reading Group Guide

About this Guide

The following author biography and list of questions about Home are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach Home.

Discussion Questions

1. What does "home" mean to Robert Broughton and his children? What does the Broughton house signify to his family? With whom do they feel most at home?

2. How does Glory's opinion of Jack change throughout the novel? What enables them to trust each other? In what ways is that trust strained? How does their relationship compare to yours with your siblings?

3. How is the Broughton household affected by the presence of a television set? How does this reflect a shift that took place in many households throughout America in the 1950s? Were you surprised by Robert Broughton's comments about African Americans, and by his reaction to the televised race riots?

4. Why do you think Robert loves Jack best, despite Jack's shortcomings? What is your understanding of Jack's wayward behavior? How would you have responded to his theological questions regarding redemption?

5. Discuss the friendship between John Ames and Robert Broughton. What has sustained it for so many years? How did they nurture each other's intellectual lives, approaching life from Congregationalist and Presbyterian perspectives?

6. What did Glory's mother teach her about the role of women? How was the Broughton family affected by the death of its matriarch?

7. How do the Boughtons view prosperity and charity? What is reflected in th way Glory handles the household finances, with leftover money stored in the piano bench? What is the nature of Jack's interest in Marxism? What is demonstrated in the incident of the book on England's working classes (the stolen library volume that Robert Broughton considered dull)?

8. How do the themes of deception and integrity play out in the novel? Are all of the characters honest with themselves? Which secrets, in the novel and in life, are justified?

9. What does Jack do with the memory of his out-of-wedlock daughter? Does his father have an accurate understanding of that chapter in Jack's life?

10. How are Glory, Jack, and Robert affected by Teddy's visit? What accounts for the "anxiety, and relief, and resentment" Glory feels regarding Teddy's arrival (p. 253)?

11. Discuss Ames's provocative sermon, which Jack paraphrases as a discussion of "the disgraceful abandonment of children by their fathers" (p. 206) based on the narrative of Hagar and Ishmael. To what degree are parents responsible for the actions of their children, and vice versa?

12. What aspects of romantic love are reflected in Home? How does Glory cope with her ill-fated engagement? Is Jack very different from Glory's fiancé? What do the Boughtons think of John Ames's marriage to Lila?

13. How did you react to Della's arrival? What legacy and memories will define her son? What common ground did Jack and Della share, fostering love?

14. Hymns provide a meaningful background throughout the novel. What do their words and melodies convey?

15. In terms of religion, what beliefs do Glory, Jack and Robert agree upon? What do they seek to know about God and the nature of humanity? What answers do they find?

16. What distinctions did you detect between the way John Ames described Jack in Gilead and the portrayal of Jack in Home? What are the similarities and differences between the Ames and Broughton households? What accounts for the fact that families can inhabit nearly identical milieux but experience life in profoundly different ways?

17. Do towns like Gilead still exist? Are pastors like Ames and Boughton common in contemporary America?

18. Discuss the homecomings that have made a significant impact on your life. How much forgiveness has been necessary across the generations in your family?

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Home 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
SuperMomof4 More than 1 year ago
I was deeply moved by parts of this book, yet I was often bored as the plot seemed to take forever to unfold. The characters were unforgettable and they are what kept me reading no matter how slow the book moved. The writing style was sometimes unclear, sometimes almost lyrical. I suppose the best description of my reaction is that I loved the book and I didn't. I would be interested in reading something else by Marilynne Robinson, but it will probably not be at the top of my To-Be-Read list.
adunlea More than 1 year ago
Home by Marilynne Robinson (Book Review) The novel Home by Marilynne Robinson won the Orange Prize 2009. Its ISBN is 1844085503 and it is published by Virago Press. It is a sad and slow moving book but rich in characterisation and in human understanding. It is set in the 1950s in Gilead where a brother and sister return as adults to live in the family home. Glory comes home to nurse her dying father and Jack the prodigal son returns home in search of reconcilation and inner peace. Each of their stories unfold slowly. Jack and Glory form a bond and acquire an understanding of each other and a mutual understanding of the burden of parental expectations. Glory accepts her role as preserver of the home and teachs Jack love and self respect. It is a beautiful tale of hope and redemption written in magnificently descriptive prose. This book will become a classic novel read for generations. Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of Always and Forever and The Honey Trap.
Elratzman More than 1 year ago
Home involves the same characters as Robinson's excellent-and superior-Gilead, narrating events from the perspective of Glory Boughton as she tries to manage her ailing minister father and her mysterious prodigal brother Jack who hasn't been home in decades. He's wrestling with his demons of drink, crime and awkward conversation. Most of Home is composed of those conversations: the stuttering between generations, siblings and lovers. Glory has a fiance in her past who sent her hundreds of letters. Jack awaits a letter from his estranged wife in Memphis. The ambivalence of communication, the uncertainty of forgiveness (everyone apologizes, but few signs of grace) and being exiled from one's 'home' complement the existential themes of Gilead. The book suffers from odd dialogue--Rev Boughton sounds like Grandpa Abe Simpson--and our frustration with self-hating Jack. The most moving scenes occur toward the end and are enhanced by events that one only knows from reading Gilead. Read both!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Gilead and Lila I was expecting so much more. Home, was beautifully written but the sadness was unrelenting. I stuck with it hoping for continuity with the other two books but was disappointed. I won't give up on Marilynne Robinson, though. Her insight into family dynamics and the effects of religious zeal is profound and thought-provoking. I don't find her writing to be boring but I would hesitate recommending her work after reading Home.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding” Home is the second book in the Gilead series by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Marilynne Robinson, and is set in Gilead, Iowa at the same time as the first book. This book focusses on Reverend Robert Boughton (closest friend of Reverend John Ames), and his family. Thirty-eight-year-old Glory Boughton, with a failed engagement behind her, returns to Gilead to look after her ailing father, Robert. A letter arrives, and Glory worries about the effect it will have on her father: “…the note might really be from Jack, but upsetting somehow, written from a ward for the chronically vexatious, the terminally remiss”.  Eventually, her disreputable brother Jack, an unemployed alcoholic, returns home after twenty years of virtual silence. Her father is pleased to see this favoured child again, one who went from “a restless, distant, difficult boy” to what Jack himself admits: “….nothing but trouble…….I create a kind of displacement around myself as I pass through the world, which can fairly be called trouble”. Jack is not the only one with secrets in his past, and he and Glory form a bond. His reconnection with his godfather and namesake, Reverend John Ames does not proceed smoothly.  They think back on their youth in the family home: “Experience had taught them that truth has sharp edges and hard corners, and could be seriously at odds with kindness” and “…lying in that family meant only that the liar would appreciate discretion…..as a matter of courtesy they treated one another’s deceptions like truth, which was a different thing from deceiving, or being deceived”. Glory is less than pleased to be in Gilead and dreads the thought of spending the rest of her days there: “To have [the past] overrun its bounds this way and become present and possibly future, too – they all knew this was a thing to be regretted”  Robinson treats the reader to some marvellous descriptive prose: “Their father said if they could see as God can, in geological time, they would see it leap out of the ground and turn in the sun and spread it arms and bask in the joys of being an oak tree in Iowa”. She touches on the question of racial prejudice and also includes some hints about the life Lila led before Gilead, a subject expanded on in the third book in this series. While this novel is somewhat slow in places, it is a stirring read and the final pages will move many readers to tears.  4.5 stars
stoves48 More than 1 year ago
I struggle to find the words appropriate to priase this book. It, along with its companion, Gilead, are two of the finest books I have read. The prose is gorgeous. I found myself slowing down to make sure I could soak in every word and phrase. It took my longer to read this than most books I have read of similar length because I regularly read and re-read several passages so that I fully appreciated the beauty of the words. I hated for either of them to end. The two books combined illustrate the falibility and perfection of human nature and the illusion that perception does in fact equal reality. I have two wishes; that I could start over and read these both for the first time all over again and that Marilynne Robinson had written more books for me to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed Robinson's previous books, you will like this one also. Reading Home is for savoring each page - basking in her beautiful language, contemplating her ideas. Thank goodness it is NOT a page turner because I wanted it to never end!
Mahuenga More than 1 year ago
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At 38 years old, Glory Boughton has returned to Gilead, Iowa to care for her aging father, the Reverend Robert Boughton. Boughton is a retired Presbyterian minister, and a good friend of the Congregationalist minister, John Ames (the main character in Robinson's Pulitzer-winning book, Gilead). Glory is recovering from a failed relationship and is simultaneously resentful of and thankful for her new routine. One day, her older brother Jack comes back into her life after 20 years away from the family. Jack had a troubled youth in Gilead, and his years away not been much better. He has been in jail, he has an alcohol problem, and there is a lingering issue regarding his relationship with a woman named Della. It's not clear just why Jack decided to return to Gilead, but both Glory and his father decide to give him a chance. The story moves along at a leisurely pace, much like a lazy summer day. Jack finds much-needed stability, tending to the garden and minor repairs around the house. Glory finds companionship, love, and understanding that she didn't think possible from Jack. And yet, Jack's demons never completely leave him. His status with Della is uncertain. While he achieves a kind of reconciliation with his father, tensions do flare from time to time as Robert is unable to completely let go of past hurts. Jack's relationship with John Ames is also tenuous. Eventually, Jack takes the only reasonable action to alleviate his pain, although as the reader we know it will never really go away.This is a sad, moving, and yet also surprisingly uplifting book of family relationships, redemption, and grace. Highly recommended.
solla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a companion book to Gilead. The subject matter is the same, but Gilead was from the point of view of a minister who knew he was soon to die and had found happiness in marriage and a child at an older age. That book was partly concerned with the son of his best friend, who was kind of a prodigal son, and whether it was possible for him to forgive the son. This book is told from the point of view of the prodigal son's sister, and tells about him coming home for a while and his struggle to feel home. Both books are very quiet in a way. Home was the harder for me to read, in the same way that it was hard for me to read the short story, the Yellow Dress, by Virginia Woolf. In that short story the self-consciousness was evoked so well, it was difficult for someone to read who shares it, and likewise, the sense of not being able to take home for granted, or never quite being able to settle in and trust it, is expressed so well that it is a little hard for me to take.
edwin.gleaves on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A highly intense novel working with a small cast of only three people for most of the novel. It's the flip side of Gilead, featuring the godson of the narrator (Ames) and the real son of Ames's best friend and sometimes antagonist (Boughton). Jack Boughton is the prodigal son, one of many biblical images that emerge in this highly serious novel. As much as the reader pulls for the restoration of Jack, it does not happen--or does it? Read it if you dare.As novels go, I preferred Gilead.
LukeS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this companion-piece to "Gilead," Ms. Robinson brings us the brief, guilt-ridden return home of Jack Boughton. Jack is the black sheep of the family, son of Reverend Boughton, and brother to Glory, who has returned home as well. Home is the small-town Iowa of "Gilead," in 1954. Jack understands he is the black sheep; it is a role he accepts, although not all his motivations are nefarious, or even underhanded. He makes somewhat of an effort to get along with authority in this episode of his life, mainly because he doesn't have a choice. He blasphemes in horror as he and his father witness the racial violence in Little Rock; he is more appalled than anyone, although his father doesn't care for the way he expresses it.Once again Ms. Robinson uses water as a significant symbol. In "Housekeeping," one of the best novels I have ever read, water is a great leveler, a deadly weight pulling those who cannot escape Lake Fingerbone to the ultimate conformity that is death. It is something to be risen over. In "Gilead," water baptizes, which, oddly, is an introduction to death. Here, Jack keeps a picture of a river, which represents to him a passage, something that will transport him past the shore of perdition. For Glory, this is an affirming story; the water she sheds in her tears - is there anyting there for Jack?"Home" matches "Gilead" in terms of deeply-felt and lasting family issues, if not its creative and dramatic structure. I do value this piece on its own, even though it works well as a companion -piece. This marvellous author takes you along expertly, showing you the full range of human emotion and aspiration. Her touch with her fallen characters is flawless. Now I itch to get to Ms. Robinson's non-fiction. I'll be reading "The Death of Adam" soon.
brenzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A slow start but then once it got going it turned out to be a wonderful book. A companion book to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize winner "Gilead," it is the same story told from the viewpoint of Glory, daughter of Rev. Boughton, best friend of Ames, "Gilead" protagonist. Glory has returned home to care for her very ill father when her long lost (20 years) brother, Jack, comes home. The story revolves around home (of course) and its meaning to everyone involved in the story. Jack breaks everyone's heart because he won't stay for a reunion with a woman from his past who arrives in the last few pages of the book. Glory is beside herself because of it. Jack and Glory had developed a close relationship. She is much younger and didn't really get to know Jack before he left home. Themes of loneliness, forgiveness and acceptance in a setting of small town life. Excellent!
RobinDawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Outstanding! In her return to Gilead Robinson has again created a world wihich is unique, and so engaging. The mood is gentle, reflective, serious, autumnal, luminous - yet intense and heartfelt. She's a writer of consummate skill.
Girl_Detective on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A companion to her Pulitzer-winning novel Gilead, Home is similar but different. Like Gilead, it is a thoughtful novel with lovely prose and complex characters actively seeking spiritual growth. If you¿re interested in questions of faith and redemption, and if you liked Gilead, as I did in 2005 and 2007, you¿ll probably like Home too. But vice versa. It is a slow, perhaps sometimes ponderous, read, often painful in its brutally honest characterizations of fallible, sad and aging people.I was hurt, and moved, and buoyed as I read. Low on plot and action, this is not a book for everyone. But its still waters run deep, and it will linger long for those inclined to listen.
MacFly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Home by Marilynne Robinson is the story of the prodigal son. The son of an ailing minister returns home and settles into an uneasy relationship with the dying man and his grown, younger sister. I enjoyed the storyline of this book but found the plot to move very slowly and, ultimately, it left me wanting for more. There seemed to be a number of issues and stories that remained under the surface without being fully explained even at the end of the book. I finished the book but didn¿t really enjoy the slow pace and the unanswered questions.
mojomomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this so much better than Gilead, but it has the same tone and feel. Rev. Boughton is declining and needs care and his youngest daughter, Glory who has just been jilted by her fiance, comes home to care for him. She is soon joined by brother Jack, the proverbial prodigal son. They grow to know and like each other as adults while their father continues to decline. Jack is fighting several demons as e also struggles to make peace as the black sheep of the family. Robinson not so subtly lets us know that Jack's estranged wife is black, but we don't confirmation of that fact until the final pages of the novel, when she and Jack's son arrive two days after he has left Gilead.
MarthaHuntley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marilynne Robinson's writing is luminous, truthful, gorgeous, enlightening, perfect, graceful in at least two senses of the word. I loved the book Gilead and think Home is even better. For someone like me who values characterization above action, Home is wonderful to read; a book to ponder and treasure...beyond a "good read." It just seems like truth. Robinson is one of our writers who can discuss faith and theology in a believable way. This book will be too slow for many readers -- perhaps you have to have lived at a slower time and place, like Gilead, Iowa in 1956, to appreciate the pace. The main characters, the Boughton and Ames families, address each other in unfailing, exquisite courtesy, which will seem unbelievable to some modern readers. I was reminded of how surprised I was as a new bride (1962, North Carolina) by my husband's family's unfailing politeness to one other ("They treat each other like company!" ). The old, dying Presbyterian minister, Robert Boughton, who loves his eight children, the black sheep Jack most of all, is of course, like God the Father, though flawed in his way, and especially on the issue of race; oblivious, really, this kindly old man, of the realities of race in America, as so many were at that time, and not just in Iowa. One aches for Jack, as his sister Glory and entire family does, and one wants to shake him, too. Actually, the reader wants to shake almost every character that appears in this book at one time or another, just as one does the members of one's own family. The friendship between the two old ministers and friends is just priceless; and the scene of their having what will undoubtedly be their last communion together, pure beauty. Since a good bit of the book revolves around the family's anxiety about Jack's future, earthly and eternal, I thought the heart of the book was expressed in Glory's conclusions as she tossed and turned the night before Jack is to leave, "She thought, 'If I or my father or any Boughton has ever stirred the Lord's compassion, then Jack will be all right. Because perdition for him would be perdition for every one of us.'"
Griff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marilynne Robinson provides a worthy follow up to her 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. In this story, it is the Boughton family that is the focal point in the small midwest town of Gilead. Robinson writes beautifully of the fragile and fractured relationships within the Boughton family, a family whose patriarch is a Presbyterian minister. She fully captures both the boundless joy and intense pain which is often manifest within many families, often simultaneously. The difficult personal and spiritual journeys which she describes are powerful and enlightening. For anyone who appreciated the graceful life reflections of Gilead, Home will provide a moving companion story.
hammockqueen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
sister and brother return home as dad is weakening and dying..preacher dad, son a loser who hasn't been in touch or home for years...jack and glory. I guess it was a good book of characters but the story semed to go nowhere for me and I really was sorry I bothered reading it.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Possibly I am an idiot¿¿because it took me so long to realize that this was a period novel set decades ago. Home is a claustrophobic novel set in small town Iowa and peopled with devout Christians. It might as well have been set on another planet for all that I know about that world. Which doesn¿t make it bad¿obviously¿but possibly I wasn¿t the best reader of this novel. Lest you think that I¿m a reader unfamiliar with or unappreciative of literary fiction, that is not the case. Robinson¿s novel is the very definition of character-driven literature. The reason I described it as claustrophobic above is that the story revolves around only three characters, and for the vast majority of the novel, they are the only three people you encounter. The brief scenes that allowed in other characters were such a relief! The story is told from the point of view of 38-year-old Glory, the youngest of the eight children of Reverend Robert Boughton. Glory has recently moved home to Gilead, Iowa to care for her elderly father. Gradually we learn of the disappointments of her life. The household is shaken early in the novel by a letter from one of the middle sons, Jack. Glory was still a girl when Jack left home in disgrace 20 years ago. He has not been seen and barely heard from in all the years since, to the point that no one knew if he was alive or dead.And the family has had cause to wonder about Jack¿s status and whereabouts. Growing up, he was always the rebellious one. Always in trouble at home, at school, and even with the law. When Jack returns to his father¿s home in Gilead, explanations about where he¿s been, why he stayed away for so long, and why he has suddenly returned are not quickly forthcoming. Jack has clearly had a hard life. He is struggling with alcoholism. He is trying to be a better person, but he is profoundly damaged. It was mostly Jack¿s story, as it was gently exposed, that kept my interest in the novel. Glory was kind, steady, dependable, but a bit bland. And the father¿mostly he bugged me.A big part of my annoyance with the character of Robert Boughton was the voice used by audiobook reader Maggi-Meg Reed when delivering his lines. OMG, it was like chalk scraping against a chalkboard! And a ridiculous number of his lines either began with or consisted entirely of the word, ¿Yes.¿ It was grating. I¿ve noticed that readers of the book seem to have enjoyed the experience more than listeners of the audiobook. Possibly I would have enjoyed the experience more through my eyes than my ears, as that is typically how I consume books. But that still wouldn¿t have saved me from a protracted theological debate on disc seven that left me wanting to throw the book across the room. But, hey, that¿s me.I wished these characters spent less time walking on eggshells and more time engaged in honest conflict. But that¿s not who these people were, apparently. The ending of the novel was perfect, beautifully written and moving. It made me consider adding an extra star to my review, but in the end I decided not to. There will be enough accolades for Robinson, and my honest reaction to this book was mixed. Is Home a brilliant and nuanced character study? Probably. People smarter than me seem to think so. But there were a few times that I found the dialog preposterous. The story is slow, and there¿s no getting around the fact that it¿s a downer. Am I glad I read it? Yeah. I¿m so overdue reading a Robinson novel. Alas, this has not inspired me to grab up the copy of Gilead that¿s been sitting on my shelf for four years, but maybe I¿ll give Housekeeping a whirl.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How to start a review on this book? There is very little plot. Jack, black-sheep of the Reverend Boughton's family, returns home after a twenty year absence. At home is his younger sister, who has fallen upon hard times and his dying father, the Reverend. The book revolves around the characters and how they interact.The Reverend Boughton desperately wants to know the condition of Jack's soul before he dies. Jack is unable to give him this solace though he tries. Jack has sinned deeply during his twenty year absence and yet there are glimpses into a good person, which the reader of Gilead will already know. So here is a man both sinner and worker of grace. Yet, unable to tell his father his secrets.The theme of parental disappointment in their own adult child is also strong and I was particularly hit with this quotation from the book. I think this is a feeling that many parents of grown children who have strayed from the path will resonate with."Kinder to him! I thanked God for him every day of his life, no matter how much grief, how much sorrow -- and at the end of it all there is only more grief, more sorrow, and his life will go on that way, no help for it now You see something beautiful in a child, and you almost live for it, you feel as though you would die for it, but it isn't yours to keep or to protect. And if the child becomes a man who has n o respect for himself, it's just destroyed till you can hardly remember what it was ... It's like watching a child die in your arms." [pg. 294]This book is a companion piece to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead. Those who have read Gilead will recognise that this family appeared in that book. This book is entirely set in 1961 and Reverend Ames and his family play a small part in this tale. Those who enjoyed Gilead will most certainly enjoy Home.To me, Home, is the better of the two. The depth of characterization is tremendous and the essence of life and death hangs in the air throughout the book. There is a lot of dialogue in this story and less theological dissertations than Gilead, which I must admit my mind wandered through somewhat. Though there is a heavy Christian theme of redemption and grace. I did find the ending rather anti-climatic though as both Gilead and Home present a secret that Jack is keeping and the secret is revealed at the end of both books so once one book has been read the secret seems pointless as a plot point in the other. Though Home is independent of Gilead and publishers are promoting that they can be read as stand-alones. I think there is a knowledge of Jack, an insider's viewpoint, that strengthens his character in Home which readers who have not previously read Gilead will not recognize. Therefore, I recommend the books being read in the order they were published. If characterization is more compelling to your reading than a fast moving plot you will enjoy Home very much, as will anyone who has read and enjoyed Gilead.
rodrichards on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant, profound, moving, thoughtful. In a very quiet way, she captures things about family, religion, time, fate--I could go on--that struck me as immensely powerful (and they struck close to home). I would say that Robinson is one of my five favorite living novelists based on the last two books. (This is a "companion" novel to Gilead, which I will now re-read, and that is a rare occurrence for me).
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marilynne Robinson's latest novel, Home, is in part a variation on the theme of the prodigal son. However in this case, the father, Reverend Robert Boughton, does not role out the red carpet. Just as she did in her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson evokes themes from the Bible to provide thematic foundation for her narrative. As this story proceeds we begin to get a picture of a man deeply disappointed in his son and who seemingly, in spite of some words that suggest otherwise, would have preferred that his son not return after an absence of twenty years. While his daughter Glory, who is living at home caring for him, is willing to attempt to reconnect with her brother Jack as she deals with her own personal regrets, Reverend Boughton is gradually portrayed as a vain bitter old man, shorn of the more loving aspects of the Christian belief system. Doubt and distrust of his son, not altogether unwarranted, but certainly unexpected from a man of the cloth, consume the Reverend whose blood ties with this broken son do not help him overcome his antipathy for flaws that do not seem to be beyond forgiveness. Others have shown some trust in Jack, but all seem to harbor doubts in this beautifully-written novel that shares its local and some characters with Robinson's Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead. In Gilead father and daughter remain as the rest of the family gathers to see their father through his last days, but the prodigal . . . well, read the book and find out.
mrstreme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Home, the 2009 Orange Prize Winner by Marilynne Robinson, was an alternate story to Gilead. While Gilead was a love letter from Reverend John Ames to his son, Robby, Home was the story about Ames¿ best friend, Robert Boughton, and his family. It was a clever look at both families, and the peak at small-town life reminded me a bit of Winesburg, Ohio. While I thought Gilead was an okay read, I enjoyed Home much more.Told from the perspective of Glory Boughton, this book explored the sometimes-complicated relationships between fathers and sons. Reverend Robert Boughton was aging, taken care of by his daughter, Glory, and was getting the surprise of his lifetime ¿ the return of his long-lost son, Jack. Jack was always the wayward son ¿ a thief, drunkard and reckless man. Despite Jack¿s flaws, his father always considered him his favorite. Jack had not seen his father in 20 years, and his return home overjoyed his ailing father.But soon enough, and despite Jack¿s best efforts, his return conjured up too many bad memories, and the missteps from Jack¿s past continued to haunt him at home. His relationship with his father never took off, and his efforts to make Reverend Ames proud of him fell short. The theme of returning home was prevalent throughout this story. Jack and Glory had returned home, and ¿home¿ brought different emotions for both siblings. For Jack, it was a reminder of his mistakes in a town that always cast suspicion on him. For Glory, it was a reminder of her failure to marry and have children, and reaffirmed her responsibility to keep up the Boughton home for her siblings once their father died ¿ so they too could have a sense of home whenever they wanted.Home was an intensely emotional book ¿ often complicated to read because of the theological conversations ¿ but one I wish I could have read in college, with the benefit of a professor to guide me through. Home may be where the heart is, but for many, it¿s just a memory that¿s best left in the past. Read Home is you want to take a painful journey of returning home and reconnecting with family ¿ for better or worst.