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Home: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312428545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312428549
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Robinson's beautiful new novel, a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, is an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son's return. The son is Jack Boughton, one of the eight children of Robert Boughton, the former Gilead, Iowa, pastor, who now, in 1957, is a widowed and dying man. Jack returns home shortly after his sister, 38-year-old Glory, moves in to nurse their father, and it is through Glory's eyes that we see Jack's drama unfold. When Glory last laid eyes on Jack, she was 16, and he was leaving Gilead with a reputation as a thief and a scoundrel, having just gotten an underage girl pregnant. By his account, he'd since lived as a vagrant, drunk and jailbird until he fell in with a woman named Della in St. Louis. By degrees, Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but when Jack's letters to Della are returned unopened, Glory has to deal with Jack's relapse into bad habits and the effect it has on their father. In giving an ancient drama of grace and perdition such a strong domestic setup, Robinson stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the bestselling novels Home, Gilead (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), Housekeeping, and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Customer Reviews

There is little or no plot, and though I often love character driven novels, this was a bit thin.
voracious reader
Marilynne Robinson is a superb writer and, in writing Home and Gilead, has created a unique perspectivie on what makes a life worthwhile.
Susan P
During my reading time I find other things that need doing just to avoid having to pick up this book again.
Deborah Collins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

343 of 355 people found the following review helpful By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story is set in the 1950's in a small rural town in Iowa (Gilead). Robert Boughton, a retired and aging minister, is in poor health. Glory Boughton, 38, his youngest daughter, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father and to regroup after the failure of a longstanding relationship and the evaporation of her dreams of home, marriage and children.

"I am 38 years old, she would say to herself as she tidied up after supper. I have a master's degree. I taught high school English for 13 years. I was a good teacher. What have I done with my life? What has become of it? It is as if I had a dream of adult life and woke up from it, still here in my parents' house."

Jack Broughton, his father's most beloved son, also returns home after a twenty-year disappearance - looking for peace, forgiveness, a refuge and reconciliation - with his Father, his family and a community which he ran from after earning a reputation as a thief and a scoundrel.

"Jack was exceptional in every way he could be, including of course, truancy and misfeasance."

Glory and Jack unravel their personal histories slowly - one slight pull at a time on a large ball of string. The simplicity of the story is tied with tension, heartwarming and difficult memories, conflicted emotions and most of all - with love - among family members and Father to son. Glory and Jack slowly build a relationship while caring for their Father.
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119 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
How simple it seems, that story of the Prodigal Son! The wanderer returns; his joyful father falls on his shoulder and orders the fatted calf to be killed; the stay-at-home sibling is resentful for a while, but presumably learns to deal with it. For the story stops there. There is no tomorrow. The Bible doesn't ask what happens in the weeks and months after that. Is the family happily reunited? Does the Prodigal never yearn to be off again? Where does life go from here? These are some of the many questions posed by Marilynne Robinson in her latest novel, HOME, a sister work to her Pulitzer Prize-winning GILEAD.

HOME is not a sequel to GILEAD, but a parallel novel, taking place in the same town (Gilead, Iowa), at exactly the same time (1956), and involving many of the same characters. Readers of the earlier novel will recall that the town has two elderly preachers, John Ames and Robert Boughton, close friends since childhood. In HOME, the action shifts from Ames' house to that of Boughton, a wonderful old man magnificently characterized through his way of talking, warmly benevolent with unexpected edges of granite. At the start of the book, his youngest daughter Glory, now 38, returns home to care for her father; she appears to be in retreat from problems of her own, but their nature only gradually becomes clear. A little later, Jack Boughton, the black sheep of the family, arrives after an absence of twenty years. Jack appears in GILEAD also; some of the information from the earlier book is revealed immediately, but we learn much more about his tormented life as the book goes on.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Liturgy Geek on September 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
...to Gilead as one could hope for. And hope, it seems to me - hope realized, hope deferred, hope in spite of reality - is at the core of this book. I saw this book at an airport bookstore and as soon as I saw that it returned to Gilead (didn't even finish reading the jacket), I purchased it. However, it took me some time to open it, because frankly I was afraid that it might not be as good as Gilead, that something from the perfection of that book might be ruined in the attempt to return there.

I needn't have worried, nor should you, if you read and loved Gilead. The perfect ambiguity of Gilead's ending is preserved, and we learn more about all the characters that were most real to me - Robert, Glory, and Jack. We meet characters only alluded to previously, and what a wonder they are! As others have noted, it is a slow, deliberate novel - though certainly wordier and less spare than Gilead. But it is a slow, deliberate story, and one to take your time with.

And hope - we always return to it. What hope and wonder are displayed in this little book, even in the midst of alcoholism, depression, small-town drama, racial conflicts, dementia. Don't be confused, however, but it's not romantic, sentimental and syrupy hope. It is deeply, profoundly, faithful hope - more like what John Ames describes at the end of Gilead: "...whatever hope becomes after it begins to weary a little, then weary a little more." A good ending can make a novel, and this one casts a wonderful vision.
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55 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Tamara Redburn on November 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely adored Robinson's previous novel, Gilead -- thoughtful, thought-provoking, slow moving in a wonderful, wistful, fulfilling way. Home, which is set at the same time and with the same characters as Gilead, just told from a different perspective, is a disappointment. The main character, Glory, can't hold a candle to the narrator of Gilead, John Ames. Robinson seems to have lost her voice with this novel, or maybe she couldn't find a voice for Glory, who seems not well defined and thus not very interesting. Jack is by far the most interesting character, but he was more frustrating than sympathetic. The slow pace and thin plot, which worked wonderfully in Gilead and actually made that book the excellent piece of literature that it is, are a hinderance to this book. The pacing feels forced and some of the scenes are excruciating with their simplistic dialogue. Read Gilead and savor that -- but Home can be skipped.
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