Feature

Novel of the week: Home by Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson continues the story of her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2005 novel, <em>Gilead</em>.

Home
by Marilynne Robinson
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25)

For any prodigal son, forgiveness is not the end of the story, said Tom Montgomery-Fate in The Boston Globe. In Marilynne Robinson’s Home, Jack Boughton, a 41-year-old ne’er-do-well, arrives in little Gilead, Iowa, as his minister father nears death. The same event was central to Gilead, Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 2005 novel. This time, though, the story is told mostly by Jack’s unmarried sister, Glory, rather than by the Rev. Boughton’s best friend. It’s Glory, not Jack, who achieves a full measure of reconciliation. Though each of these companion novels is rewarding in itself, said Todd Shy in the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, “it is a rich, jolting experience” to read them together. Whereas the pious elderly narrator of Gilead winningly celebrated “simple, persistent virtues,” Home “forces us to wonder” if his affirming worldview was a product of the same narrowness that prevents Jack’s lordly father from offering his son a homecoming worthy of the name. Together, each novel illuminates the other, said Benjamin Lytal in The New York Sun. Together, they mark “a bright spot in our literary history.”

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