Home – Marilynne Robinson

The BookDepository

Winner of the Orange Prize 2009

I’m afraid that I have to admit I didn’t finish this book. I gave up after about 60 pages. The characters failed to engage me, and I was struggling to concentrate on the words. Maybe the problem was made worse by the fact I had just finished the amazing Wilderness, or maybe it was because I had the memory of how boring I found Gilead so fresh in my mind, but either way I didn’t see the point in wasting my precious reading time battling with a book that I know doesn’t suit my reading taste.

The writing style was different to Gilead, and it had the benefit of not containing the continual bible references, but I don’t think the prose was as good as the Pulitzer winner – it seemed a lot less profound. I think people who love Gilead will find this slightly less satisfying, but I haven’t read very much, so can’t really give a proper opinion.

I’m afraid this just wasn’t for me.



Have you ever liked a book from an author you’ve previously decided was not for you?

This book is favourite to win the Orange  Prize – do you think it has a chance?

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  1. Sandy says:

    Well doesn’t that just stink! But it does happen. I’d like to say that this one shouldn’t have a chance in hell to win, if you could be so put off, but you know how these things go! I have had this experience before: an author I’ve read and liked (alot) but had to shelve one particular book. I think authors, like everyone, have bad streaks, and usually I’m willing to overlook a slip-up now and again.

  2. Violet says:

    I hate when this happens. But it really doesn’t make sense wasting time on a book you are not enjoying. There are too many books to read anyway :)

    Hope you enjoy your next book.

  3. Jackie says:

    Sandy – It probably will win. I’ve heard other people raving about this book, so it is just my very fussy taste in books!

    Violet – I’m sure the next book will be better, as I don’t think it can get much worse!!

  4. Nicole says:

    I read Housekeeping by the same author all the way through for a book club. It was okay, but like you mentioned I wasn’t really engaged. I have never been able to read another of her books and I have heard that Gilead is good.

  5. JoAnn says:

    Like Nicole, I read Housekeeping for my book club. I appreciated the writing, but decided that this author’s style may not be for me. I have been thinking of reading Gilead, but always choose something else instead.

  6. Jackie says:

    I don’t think I’m going to even attempt Housekeeping, as this sort of writing just isn’t for me. It is good to see that other people agree with me. We must all share similar reading tastes.

  7. Steph says:

    I wouldn’t be so certain that this will win the Orange Prize – while not as prestigious, this was up in The Morning News’s “Tournament of Books”, and I believe it got booted the first round! I think people may be hard pressed to NOT compare it to Gilead, and as you said it may come up short for those people (I think this is an accurate statement, as I feel like most of the reviews I’ve read of the book by people who enjoyed Gilead have said it’s good but not as good as Gilead).

    I have a copy of Housekeeping, which I think I will try before I try Gilead, simply because it sounds like it has a more conventional plot, which I think I will appreciate. I’m intrigued by Gilead now, simply because people seem so torn on it! I wonder which camp I will fall into…

  8. Beth F says:

    Good idea. Let it go…. I have a feeling I would agree 100% with you on this one and Gilead.

  9. LizzySiddal says:

    Oh dear – our reading tastes really are very differnt indeed! I loved this so much that after reading a library copy, I went out and treated myself to a copy of my very own!

  10. Molly says:

    While I just read Gilead in preparation for having to read Home for a course I’m taking this summer, I do agree that they do not capture me. I am quite sure that if it were not required reading, I would have opted to put them back on the shelf and select something for pure enjoyment (like a good mystery).

    I have only read about 30 pages of Home so far and I also agree that it is not as well written as Gilead, but I will persevere to the end

  11. Oh NO! Sorry about that ;(

  12. Michele says:

    *sigh* I have a copy of both Gilead and Home, but haven’t gotten around to them yet. I was leery when I picked them up. I know they are critically acclaimed, but I really didn’t think I’d love either one. It was more of a “I should really try to read these” kind of thing. At some point I will try, but probably not any time soon.

    I’m always glad to read an honest review like this…it lets me know that I’m not alone in my “meh” with some of these acclaimed books.

  13. Jeanne says:

    I loved Housekeeping and was disappointed in Gilead. So I’m glad to read your review and know that I probably won’t like Home, either. This author really went around the bend after her first novel, I think. One time she came to do a reading at my university, but instead of reading from or talking about Housekeeping, which was newly out at the time, she raved for an hour about the dangers of nuclear power.

  14. Jackie says:

    Steph – I had forgotten all about the Tournament of Books – I’ll have to go and have a look at what went on there. Gilead does seem to divide people – I’d be interested to see which side of the fence you’re on too!

    Beth – I’m not so sure – sometimes you like this sort of thing. If you ever get round to reading them I’d love to know your thoughts.

    Lizzy – Yes, we do seem to have very opposing taste in books! I’m looking forward to seeing if we agree on who should win the Orange prize though, and how different my ranking of the six is to yours. I think I sometimes get a better appreciation of the book after reading your reviews. I am just too impatient with books sometimes.

    Molly – Perhaps it will all click into place for you after a few more pages. I’m looking forward to hearing if it improves towards the end.

    Bethany – Never mind, at least I didn’t waste a lot of time on it.

    Michele – I’m discovering that I don’t enjoy a lot of these critically acclaimed books – I think the problem is that I’m not a fan of poetry, so good words aren’t enough for me – I need a bit more depth.

    Jeanne – I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy her speech. It is a shame that she didn’t talk about her book. Please don’t tell me that you didn’t like Gilead, but liked Housekeeping – I had almost ruled that out completely – now I have a shadow of doubt, that I might be missing out on something by not reading it!!

  15. claire says:

    I don’t think you’re fussy at all! This is just the sort of reaction I expect from myself which is why I never felt compelled to read this after Gilead. I loved Gilead for the prose, which I didn’t mind that there was almost no plot. But reading a second story of the same plot which is plotless, I don’t think I’d be that patient. I’d still like to read Housekeeping, but not Home. I hope Wilderness wins, because, even if I haven’t read any of the Orange shortlist, it’s the one premise that truly appeals to me and I so want to read it. I’m really glad you had such a high opinion of it, as it makes me want to read it even more!

  16. Wendy says:

    I was bummed when it made the short list because I am trying to read all the books nominated, as well as those which win the Orange Prize – As you know, I disliked Gilead and I imagine I won’t like this one. In fact, I am so sure I won’t that it may be the ONE book I don’t read for the Orange Prize Project *sighs*

  17. Kim says:

    Thank you, Jackie, you have helped me make up my mind – no Home for me! I really had to push myself through Gilead and although I ended up loving it, I found it very hard going at first. So, if Home is not as well written and having read your review and listened to your comments on Gilead, I now feel that Home sounds like it would be hard work for me, especially when there is so much great stuff out there to spend reading time on.

  18. I really really didn’t enjoy Gilead. Couldn’t finish it, so, I’ll probably give this one a skip.

  19. Linda C. says:

    Home is one of my favorite books of the year. I think her writing is like fine wine–to be savored, but it’s not for everyone. I don’t find the “lack of plot” to be a problem. It is about a relationship (or lack thereof), and I found the characters engaging, puzzling, and completely believable.
    I also like Gilead, but not Housekeeping.

    Other Orange nominees I liked include Blonde Roots and Molly Fox (in some ways similar to Home in that there is no real plot, but very interesting characters).

  20. Jackie says:

    Claire – I’m sure you’ll love Wilderness. It is very moving, but I loved it.

    Wendy – It is annoying when you plan to read the whole list, but don’t manage to read a book or two. I do feel as though I haven’t completed the challenge I set myself by not reading all of the book, but sometimes it isn’t worth the effort, and as long as you have a good knowledge of all the books on the list I don’t think it matters if you’ve read every last word or not. Good luck with the list reading!

    Kim – If you ended up loving Gilead then you may well love Home. Perhaps you should attempt it in a few years time, when you’ve forgotten a bit about Gilead?

    uncertainprinciples – I think that is probably a good idea!

    Linda C – Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed Home. I’m just too impatient to savor books – I need a bit of action to pull me in, but I do appreciate that everyone is different, and that some people will love this one. I haven’t read Blonde Roots, but I will do at some point. I wonder if I’ll enjoy it.

  21. Cathy says:

    thank you all for your helpful comments, I have to champion this book for a library reading group’s evening. I have read the first couple of chapters and skimmed the rest, dont know how I will be positive about it, but you have all given me some ideas !! thanks.

  22. Jackie says:

    Cathy – Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time! I’m glad we could be of use! Enjoy your reading group, and do come back to tell us if you have anything else to add on the book after speaking to everyone else.

  23. Vicki says:

    Well you’ve read more of Home than I have! I thought I ought to blog on it seeing as it’s won the Orange Prize… but am wandering in the dark. Any chance you could swing by with a bit of feedback? I’d be so grateful!

  24. Jackie says:

    Vicki – Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time! I’ve been over to yours to comment.

  25. Petunia says:

    I have been listening to the audio book of “Home” for quite a while. I think the story is great but it is slow and the person they have reading it has a very annoying voice. She sounds a bit like Mr. Howe from Gilligin’s Island.

    1. Jackie says:

      Hi Petunia – Sorry I somehow missed your comment. I haven’t heard of anyone else listening to this book – so it is interesting to hear that isn’t perfect either.

  26. Haley says:

    This book is so boring, I am losing the will to live. I’ve decided to stop rather than carry on until the end. How did it win a prize?

    1. Jackie says:

      Hi Haley! I think this book appeals to those who love slow, detailed books. I wasn’t a fan of it at all, so hopefully you’ll find a few good recommendations of books you will like here.

  27. John Self says:

    I think Robinson is a very interesting writer, and her books do require attention to give up their essence.

    I’m discovering that I don’t enjoy a lot of these critically acclaimed books – I think the problem is that I’m not a fan of poetry, so good words aren’t enough for me – I need a bit more depth.

    Good words aren’t enough? A book is its words. That’s all there is!

    Can you give an example of some books with a bit more depth than Home?

    1. Jackie says:

      What I mean is that I need more than the beautiful words written on one page – I need a good plot, something thought provoking, some momentum to carry me through the book, characters that engage me.

      How about Blindness by Jose Saramago?
      2666 by Roberto Bolano?

      Both books have great writing, but also a great plot.


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