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And the Orange Prize-shortlisted May Book of the Month is....HOME by Marilynne Robinson

(39 Posts)
TillyBookClub Wed 06-May-09 05:57:35

Marilynne Robinson's HOME has won our May poll and become Mumsnet's Orange Prize winner.

We'll be chatting about HOME on Tuesday 26 May from 8pm to 10pm. Hope you can join us!

Don't forget you can order your copy here

And, for anyone who missed out on the vote here were May's book choices and this is how Book Club works.

TillyBookClub Tue 19-May-09 19:40:33

I'm getting deeply involved in this - has everyone got their copy?
I was worried that I'd be missing something, having not read the former book Gilead. But it works perfectly as a stand alone novel.

Cocodrillo Wed 20-May-09 20:54:37

I'm not sure about this book - talk about a slow burner.

WibblyPigRocks Wed 20-May-09 22:12:48

I'm really struggling to get started on this. Can someone tell me it's worth getting into?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 21-May-09 11:15:48

I can - it is a slow burner, but am now gripped in a looking-forward-to-next-time-I-can-read-it way.

WibblyPigRocks Thu 21-May-09 13:23:19

That's the way I want to be gripped!! By a book anyway...

Cocodrillo Thu 21-May-09 13:42:34

I will give it a few more pages then. But it is in last-chance saloon.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 21-May-09 15:36:51

I'm on p73. Where are you up to Cocodrillo?

morningpaper Thu 21-May-09 21:11:39

oh goodness

I am in the middle of a really good book "The 19th Wife" - although I had to peel off the Richard And Judy sticker - so I only have 4 days to read this one

I might need to go to bed

Cocodrillo Fri 22-May-09 09:04:01

p.88! Maybe I should give up on it after all!

Cocodrillo Fri 22-May-09 19:38:09

I think I've turned a corner and seen the light, and other crap metaphors: I'll keep reading. Glory and Jack are starting to feel more like real people to me.

whistlejacket Fri 22-May-09 20:08:44

I'm on page 100 and hoping something will happen in it soon. Finding it boring to be honest.

Cocodrillo Sat 23-May-09 13:39:48

On p. 172. This is still essentially a book about doing a spot of weeding while contemplating psalms stroppily.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 23-May-09 13:57:17

Struggling with it, I read one of the other contenders 'Scotsboro' before this one which I couldn't put down, if it is any consolation, the others are pretty heavy going aswell.

Wheelybug Tue 26-May-09 19:13:33

WOUld have loved to have joined in but am only on page 105 or something. FOund it v. hard to get into (doesn't help being 10 weeks post-birth). More into it now but agree with not a lot happening but am interested enough to keep reading I think to see what happens (does anything happen ???).

TillyBookClub Tue 26-May-09 19:51:45

Evening everyone, kicking off a bit early as we might wrap up a bit earlier this time (half term tiredness is already felling me) - and it looks like we might not be that long over this one....

I feel a bit sheepish. I started off with excitement (cf my last post), took the first 50 pages happily, slowed down for the next 50 and then wondered if I could possibly go and read last Saturday's Guardian Weekend magazine instead.

Just like everyone else, I found not a lot happening. And at the start, I didn't mind about that at all - the writing was good, and the intrigue was there to a degree. What had Jack done and would he make up with his father etc.

But I think it needed a change of pace, a change of scene, something to change. It all got too repetitive, and then l couldn't care about these three people. I felt that I was ploughing through a meal that was good for me but just not very tasty.

I still haven't finished it (am about 3/4 of the way through, skim read the last 1/4 just to get what happened) and I'm not sure I really mind. I've never done that with a bookclub book before.

Where is everyone at now - and did you find your opinions changing whilst reading it?

WibblyPigRocks Tue 26-May-09 20:11:45

I'm just so glad I'm not alone in finding this book a bit repetitive. I also haven't finished it yet and I'm not sure I will, although I hate leaving a book unfinished.

I think one of the main issues for me was that I often found I had to re-read certain passages in order to ascertain exactly which character was being written about. Although I think the author intended the reader to take things slowly and learn to understand these characters, and perhaps take things at the slow pace of life they were currently living, I just found this a bit tedious.

I do agree that these characters feel very real and I think that the author really encourages you to think about the nature of family relationships, which, as we all know, are not black and white.

These are things that would have appealed to me when I was an English teacher - i.e. plenty to write about in an essay - but in my current situation, I want something a bit more fast-paced that I can easily get into, even if only for five minutes at a time!! I like to be given something to think about, but this just didn't press the right buttons!! Last month, as I was reading 'Middlesex' I just kept thinking of things I wanted to say on here and things I wanted to ask about, but with this one, I just keep thinking about next month's book!

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-May-09 20:18:12

Maybe I've lost the plot but I have really enjoyed this book and not sure I would have read it if it hadn't been book club choice (thank you Tilly).

The whole sense of fragility - people, way of life, relationships - I found v moving. Actually cried at one point and haven't done that since The Road.

TillyBookClub Tue 26-May-09 20:23:53

That's right, there were complex issues and religious metaphors and subtle dialogue: all sorts of meaty things to put in your Eng Lit exam. And there's no doubt that the writing is excellent.

Interestingly many of the most glowing reviews I read were written by highly academic journalists who analyse each sentence with increasingly obscure references. They give the impression that if you feel its not gripping you, then you're a philistine with dubious taste and no distinction.

I wonder now if it DOES make a difference being a sequel. A friend has read Gilead and talked about Reverend Ames - I think Jack's interaction with him in the novel is very opaque and mystifying if you haven't read the first book.

TillyBookClub Tue 26-May-09 20:35:43

Geraldine, I don't think you've lost the plot, I think maybe you found it where the rest of us gave up...

I find parts very moving too, especially the aspect of coming home and finding it not the Eden you remember.

This was a quote I found from one of the reviews:

Behind all of Robinson’s work lies an abiding interest in the question of heavenly restoration. HOME ponders the question of return. The Boughton children come home to a strange, old-fashioned Iowa town, but the return is hardly the balm it promises to be, for home is too personal, too remembered, too disappointing. Eden is exile, not Heaven:

The other part I found deeply moving was this bit from the book:

“You see something beautiful in a child, and you almost live for it, you feel as though you would die for it, but it isn’t yours to keep or to protect. And if the child becomes a man who has no respect for himself, it’s just destroyed till you can hardly remember what it was.”

The book made me think, it had strong points to make. I think it is my own demands on what a book must do to keep me awake in the evenings that are to blame.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-May-09 20:49:20

Thanks Tilly, great quotes. I'm at the insomnia end of the spectrum at the moment, so maybe that's why I was finding it so engrossing.

Not a lot happens, it's not extraordinary stuff (almost run-of-the-mill addiction and disappointment, gender roles etc etc) but kept me awake.

morningpaper Tue 26-May-09 21:02:12

Well I did TRY but I kept preferring sleep

I felt very STUPID for not enjoying it more

I might try it afresh after my more interesting novel blush

I WANT to like it

TillyBookClub Tue 26-May-09 21:05:46

Another interesting review here (New York Times)

I do think you perhaps need to read Gilead with it, and then sit down with a good few hours to really immerse yourself in the whole family saga.

I wondered if Jack having another child with Della was meant to be a redemption for the dead child? Sounds rather facile when I put it like that, but there were so many references to good and evil, saint and sinner, and it seemed as if the second child was his resurrection.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-May-09 21:05:56

that's how I felt about Middlesex grin

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-May-09 21:06:50

sorry, x-post

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