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Gilead Series, Book 2
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Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend.

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.

Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.

Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. It is Robinson's greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions.

Home is a 2008 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend.

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.

Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.

Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. It is Robinson's greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions.

Home is a 2008 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

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  • 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...

    "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...

About the Author-
  • Marilynne Robinson is the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for "her grace and intelligence in writing." She is the author of Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Lila, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Robinson's nonfiction books include The Givenness of Things, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam, and Mother Country. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 30, 2008
    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.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from August 15, 2008
    This follow-up to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gilead" (2004) is a concurrent narrative rather than a sequel, as if the earlier novel's journal entries had concluded with "Meanwhile]." The plot here concerns the large family of elderly Rev. Robert Broughton, specifically two of his adult children, who have returned to Iowa temporarily. Youngest sister Glory keeps house for her dying father, but her efforts are eclipsed by the reappearance of bad-boy favorite child Jack Ames Broughton two decades after a scandalous departure. Pain-filled and mysterious, Jack reengages uncomfortably with relations and neighbors, forcing them to confront perhaps unbearable truths about themselves and society. In Robinson's characteristically calm, measured language, the author creates three-dimensional characters that move believably within beautifully realized physical and psychological space as they confront (and challenge the reader with) deeply serious questions of faith, moral responsibility, and the racial divide in America. Fans of "Gilead" will be grateful for this expansion of the storyand for its closing hint of a possible return to the extended Ames/Boughton families, whose two small sons will carry their complicated heritage into the cultural revolutions of the 1960s. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 5/1/08.]Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. PL, VA

    Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    June 1, 2008
    RobinsonsGilead (2004), a contemplative novelin the voice ofseptuagenarian Reverend John Ames, enthralledreaders andearned a Pulitzer Prize. A poetic and philosophical writer concerned about the state of the earth and our collective souls, Robinson returns to mid-1950s Gilead, Iowa, to tell a different facet of the same story. Johns best friend, the Reverend Boughton, is in decline. Glory, the youngest of his eight children, has come home to care for him, and both are grateful and alarmedwhen Jack, the prodigal son, reappears after an excruciating 20-year absence. Once a charming scoundrel, Jack is now riddled with regrets and despair. As she cares for two broken men struggling toward reconciliation and redemption, Glory is a paragon of patience, a virtue readers also must cultivate as Robinson follows an austerenarrative regime, confining the reader to the day-by-day present and the Boughton home. Household chores areinfused with metaphysical implications, while what is not said carries more weight than what is spoken. Robinson wrestles with moral dilemmas ordinary and catastrophic, and ponders themystery of why human beings never feel wholly at home on earth. This is a rigorous, sometimes claustrophobic, yet powerfullyspiritual novel ofanguish and prayer, wisdom and beauty, penance andhope.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2008, American Library Association.)

  • James Wood, The New York Times Book Review

    "Gilead is a beautiful work--demanding, grave and lucid . . . Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction."

  • Newsweek "There is almost no first-rate American fiction about what happens in a household where religion is the family business, but if you ever wondered what it's like to be a preacher's kid, you can't do better than "Home." Robinson's greatest achievement is that she manages to introduce the notions of belief and religious mystery without ever seeming vague. She never shies from uncomfortable truths. When Jack asks Glory why she hates Gilead and wants to leave, she says, "Because it reminds me of when I was happy." Fixing dinner, she "wished that it mattered more that [she and her father and brother] loved one another. Or mattered less, since guilt and disappointment seemed to batten on love. Her father and brother were both laid low by grief, as if it were a sickness, and she had nothing better to offer them than chicken and dumplings." This is a novel that builds its truth out of quotidian detail--the way Jack thumbs the felt on his hat brim, the way Glory thinks in Bible verses:...
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