Thursday, April 2, 2009
Home by Marilynne Robinson
I just finished savoring Home by Marilynne Robinson – wow, what a great book. I had read Gilead, Marilynne’s Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction in 2005 and Home was the follow up novel. It examined home as a place to return to, home as a place in the heart – really asking the question – what is home and where is it and do we have a home? The rich narrative that Marilynne writes in, how she draws you into the lives of her characters, the way she portrays faith are all reasons I love her literary work.
In one way or another, every character in Home is searching for the answer to the question of what it means to come home. Glory is 38 when she returns to Gilead, Iowa to take care for her dying father, pastor Robert Boughton, a widowed father of 8 children. Glory’s wayward brother Jack also finds his way back; however, his homecoming is marked with awkwardness as reflections of a difficult past resurface. Glory has not seen Jack in 20 years when he left Gilead with his scandalous reputation. Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but Jack relapses into bad habits which affects their father. Glory continues offering grace to Jack, trying to get him to stay, but he worries the other siblings will not be as understanding as some will be making their way home to see their father before he passes away. Grace and forgiveness and what it means to come home are strong themes here, and the question of whether home is ever the same once you leave and return is always in the back of one’s mind.