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I loved Marilynne Robinson's last book, Gilead. As the mother of 3 sons and the only sister with 3 brothers, I read and reread Robinson's words in the voice of Ames, the Congregationalist minister, about the trust that parents must have before they, like Abraham, can send their sons into the wilderness. She writes beautifully, and she clearly has much theological thought and study behind her. This book, which included the same characters, shows what happens when that trust isn't enough. Jack Boughton, prodigal son of Ames' friend, Robert Boughton, comes home, bringing all his misery along with him. He seems repentant, but seems still to wallow, and perhaps even enjoy, his past transgressions. It gets rather tiresome and we lose patience with him. Robinson's beautiful theological reflections remain in this book, however, and, because I liked rereading and referring to them, I wish I had read the book instead of listening to it. Also, the reader's voice was a little too Charlton Heston for my taste. That too, got a little tedious.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
Robinson is an absolute master at creating worlds populated by real people. I feel as though I know these characters. Having read Gilead, which overlaps somewhat with Home, I can only marvel even more at Robinson's talent for narration that is so very true to the human spirit. The same events, viewed by a next-door neighbor, bear a completely different significance. This novel carries an entirely different weight from the theme explored in Gilead. Robinson has said that she aims to write characters, not plot, and not much does actually happen. All the same, the beauty of these people, their house and this town seem so real that if I could actually find them in Iowa, I would seem to be returning, not arriving for the first time.
The reader has a wonderful knack for conveying all the emotion in the simplicity of Robinson's neat, well-crafted sentences. Perhaps it is because I am from the Midwest myself, but I was particularly touched Ms. Reed's ability to hint at emotion in dialogue between characters who would never willingly discuss such things openly. The implied, the understood and the subtle code of the small Midwestern town figure so prominently in the dialogue of Home, and Ms. Reed manages beautifully what would seem to me the most difficult task of reading this particular novel aloud.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful