Book blog, we will not let you die! We have in fact been reading, and some awesome books at that, one of which was Marilynne Robinson’s Home. Prior to writing Home, Robinson had written Housekeeping way back when and then about five years ago written Gilead, which won the Pulitizer and alone qualified her to be one of my most favorite writers. Gilead is about Reverend John Ames, and Home is a companion novel rather than a sequel, as it is about Ames’ best friend, Reverend Robert Boughton.
I finished Home over the past weekend (during my second vacation of this month, the first of which was to see Sonika), and freely admit that I cried during the whole last part of the book and feverishly hoped that the guy next to me didn’t think I was a crazy lady.
Home focuses on the Reverend and his youngest two children, Glory and Jack. The Reverend is dying, and Jack, the prodigal son, comes home in an effort to mend fences. It is a painful reunion for all three of them, and one laced with as much pain and regret as relief- and the peace that Jack and the Reverend so long for is always just out of reach.
The themes of faith, family and forgiveness are not only themes in this work but active topics of discussion among Glory, Jack and the Reverend. At one point, Glory thinks to herself:
There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error, so Papa used to say. You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding. … If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace.
Robinson is a fantastic writer, but demands thought, consideration, and most of all attention. Her style reminds me of Woolf, in the way that the reader needs to surrender to the book and let the words flow over them. Robinson requires you to be opening to receiving her novels, which given that the past two have dealt with faith, seems somewhat fitting. I loved Gilead, and loved Home just as much, and there are few people I can think of who I wouldn’t confidently hand these books to and say, ‘Go, and read them both immediately.’