Summary: An imperfect prodigal returns home to an imperfect father.
Pretty much any time I hear someone answer the question, who is the best Christian author writing fiction that is not marketed as ‘Christian Fiction’, Marilynne Robinson is usually listed in the top 10. I am glad we have a category called ‘Christian Fiction’. But I mostly do not read it. Not because all of it is bad, but because so much of it is formulaic.
I first read Gilead, the first of this loose trilogy in 2012 and again in 2015. Lila, the third book in the trilogy, I read twice in the space of three months at the end of 2014 and then again in early 2015, just before reading Gilead a second time. I have been reluctant to read Home for a couple reasons. First, it means that I have read all four of Robinson’s books of fiction. And I wanted to have something to look forward to. Second, there were a lot of negative reviews of Home in Audible for the quality of the audiobook. And I have liked Robinson’s books in audio.
But Robinson has hinted that she will publish another book of fiction. And I eventually just borrowed the audiobook from the library so I didn’t have to be disappointed in the audio. In the end I was not disappointed in the audiobook. The narrator was Maggi-Meg Reed, who seems quite familiar.
The three books of the trilogy are told from the perspective of three different people with overlapping timelines and shared events told from different perspectives. I was predisposed to dislike Jack, the subject (but not the narrator) of Home because of the negative impression of John Ames, the subject and narrator of Gilead. Jack is a more sympathetic character in Home, although certainly not innocent.
I am not sure whether this was really the intention, but this felt like a broken retelling of the story of the prodigal son. Rev Boughton, John Ames’ best friend is the father of eight children and near the end of his life. His prodigal son and oldest child, Jack, has been gone for 20 years, but comes back home. Glory, the baby, after a failed relationship has returned to the town of Gilead to care for her father and heal her own wounds.