Author: Marilynne Robinson
Published: 2008, Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Genre: Literary Fiction
Accolades: 2009 Orange Prize
Last year I read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson which was one of my top twelve "best books read" in 2011. Today I finished Home which will be in the running for the top twelve books read in 2012 and has made Marilynne Robinson my favorite author.
Gilead is the story of Reverend John Ames, his faith, and his struggle with his ability to forgive. In Gilead we were introduced to Glory Boughton, who had come home to take care of her ailing father, Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend, and to Jack Boughton, Ames's godson and the proverbial prodigal son. Home is the story of Glory Boughton and revolves around the Boughton's home and family. Home focuses on the Boughton's mistakes and failures and how difficult it is to forgive ourselves and those we love. But most importantly, it is the story of home. What does it mean to come home? And can coming and being home really save a weary soul?
In Home Glory has returned to care for her dying father, but also to escape a broken engagement. In the first few pages we can sense Glory's despair and disillusionment in having to return home;
" Did she choose to be there, in that house, in Gilead? No, she certainly did not... What an embarrassment that was, being somewhere because there was nowhere else for you to be." page 25
As Glory comes to terms with being back in her parent's home which she deems as a sign of failure, her father receives a letter from her brother Jack who will be coming home after an absence of twenty years. Jack is the prodigal son, the lost soul who can't forgive himself and is hoping to find redemption in a place that he has never been able to call home.
Home is a subtle, delicate book that questions our ideas of home - ideals that can never live up to our expectations because our true home really lies within our heart and is an expression of our soul.
Home is not a prequel or a sequel to Gilead because both stories occur at the same time and both books can stand on their own; however, I really feel that if you read Home, you have to promise yourself that you will read Gilead. They are the two halves to a perfect whole (I would still read Gilead first)
Note: I read the 2009 Picador paperback edition (my own copy)