"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." - Robert Frost
The leader of our Newberry book group on Thursday gave us a nice collection of quotes about home before we starting discussing "Home" by Marilynne Robinson. We read "Gilead" a few years back and I did not care for it, but "Home" was good and the timing was excellent. When are you thinking more about home, or what makes a place home, then during the holidays?
When I first walked into the meeting room just the leader was sitting there and I said "oh, no one wants to come talk about the upper?" and he laughed and asked if I found the book sad. Yes. Robinson writes so well that she can make your skin crawl. Or maybe at least mine. I rarely say I am bored, but when go visit my parents (at their home, not mine) I often suffer from a crushing, chest tightening boredom. Robinson captures this feeling when Glory is wondering what the heck she is going to do with herself. But there are reasons why people move away and there are reasons why people move home.
We talked about the pull of home. I think some of the people in my group have lived two places - where they were born and then Chicago. So they feel a romantic pull of "home" to the place of their birth. Chicago is the place of my birth and now where I live as an adult, but I have lived other places. Where did I grow up? Now that might be a discussion for over a beer. I went to high school outside Atlanta if you consider those the growing years but I do not feel a connection with Atlanta and only go there to visit my parents. Chicago is my home.
I also found the sibling theme in "Home" very poignant. I would say that, if they are being honest, anyone with a sibling would say, at one time or another, they have felt that the other child was the favorite. Or that one child received preferential treatment. "Home" also touches on being close to a sibling while growing up and then growing up and growing apart when you are not physically in contact with each other.
Yes, the book is slow. No, not much happens on the surface but, wow, is there tension underneath! The characters in this book don't yell and scream like today's reality show stars but they harbor hurt feelings and petty grievances with the best of them.
This is a good book to read now as you travel to a family home or visit with family. Or sit around your own home under a blanket with a glass of wine and deliberate, slow moving, well written novel.