Thoughts  by Marilynne Robinson, Farrar,Straus and Giroux 2008, 325 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name: Building category
Genre: Literary Fiction
Type/Source: Hardcover / Used Bookstore Raynham MA
 Why I read this now: Because I wanted to.


Kindness takes more strength than I have now. I didn’t realize how much effort I used to put into it.

MOTIVATION for READING: Because I loved Gilead. I love the quiet powerful books.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Gilead is a fictional small town in Iowa and the book of the same name is about a Congregationalist minister contemplating some key elements of his life as he looks back on relationships and pivotal events. This book is a companion piece to Gilead, with other characters’ viewpoints and stories featured more prominently. Where Gilead was about Ames, this book is about Jack and his sister Glory, children of Ames’ best friend Robert. I suppose that is more than you need to know and yet doesn’t tell anything at all.


There was a barely restrained glee about him, as though he felt he had done something, or had done nothing, to excellent effect.

WHAT’s GOOD:    Oh.

Sentences. Provocations? Emotions.

What’s NOT so good: What is not so good for me is having to read all the reviews that say this book is boring. They said that about Gilead, too. I was never bored so that claim rings false. I should respect those who make it but I don’t have to like it.

As a matter of courtesy they treated one another’s deceptions like truth which was a different thing from deceiving or being deceived.

Sure, Jack smiles too much and glances at Glory a lot. But it felt so true. Such a different time. What would a bum son look like in now times? Would such a degenerate be so good to his father? Was he good? What IS good? Takes my breath away. And poor Glory. Ugh. Trapped in our roles, are we? I can’t write a review, I can only ask more questions.

She used to ask yourself, What more could I wish? But she always distrusted that question, because she knew there were limits to her experience that precluded her knowing what there was to be wished.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Beautiful. Sad. Contemplative. Aching.

“She said you hated cream pie, but I was certain I remembered you had a special fondness for it, and she made it on my say-so, despite her reservations.”

“It’s pretty leathery by now,” she said.

“You see, she’s trying to prejudice you against it! You’d think we’d made a wager of some kind!”

Jack said, “I like cream pie.” He glanced at her.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Apple pie.

He asked for a look at the pie before the top crust went on – “more fragrant than flowers!” – And for look at it afterward, on the edge had been fluted and the vents were cut.

The kitchen began to smell of pie baking.


That odd capacity for destitution, as if by nature we ought to have so much more than nature gives us. As if we are shockingly unclothed when we lack the complacencies of ordinary life. In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human and vulnerable to kindnesses because there is the sense that things should be otherwise, and then the thought of what is wanting and what alleviation would be, and how the soul could be put at ease, restored. At home. but the soul finds its own home if it ever has a home at all.


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8 thoughts on “Home

  1. You make me think maybe I should give this one a try, since I don’t want to give Gilead another try. I wonder if it’s my association with the name, at this point–the name of the fictional country in The Handmaid’s Tale.

    1. Hmmm, maybe?

      Did you read Strout’s Lucy Barton? Another quiet by powerful book that is so to my liking. I can never find your search bar at your blog. Do you have one?

        1. Okie doke. Will do.

          Thanks for the link. So… do you have a clear memory of that book, that time? I bet you do. I can still remember where I was when I read Lucy Barton – on a dock in Maine, late summer 2016, with my aunt wistfully remarking that the days were already getting shorter…

  2. I really want to try this loose trilogy. I have a copy of Home, but want to start with Gilead of course.

    I read Housekeeping by Robinson about 10 years ago and just thought it OK, but I think I have changed as a reader since then and I might enjoy her style more now. I probably would have considered it boring too earlier in my reading life, but I have come to appreciate certain plot-lite, character-heavy books now.

  3. I read all three. I wouldn’t call them boring, but I’m not surprised that some do. They were slow thoughtful reads with their own isolated atmosphere. It took me quite a while to get through them just because they are such contemplative reads. I still think of them a year later..

    There is a published interview that President Obama held with M.Robinson that I would recommend reading. It was published in The New York Review of Books and can be found online.

  4. I found an audiobook of this one, so have been driving around listening to it in fairly short spurts. It’s a rather melancholy way to spend spring days, and I came back to your comments today to register my prediction that the big reason Jack is moping about is because he’s in love with a black woman and thinks his old father won’t approve. Even if he’s right, I don’t approve of how tight-lipped he is. We’ll see, huh? I guess I could be completely off the mark.

  5. Pingback: Home | Necromancy Never Pays

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