Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Home and Netherland

I read three books and began another while on holiday, and all were exceptional in different ways.

I loved Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, and resisted reading the sequel Home, despite rave reviews, until this occasion. Home is not a page turner yet it is thoroughly enthralling, a novel to savour and take time with. While Gilead was written from the perspective of an elderly Presbyterian minister writing to his very young son, Home concerns the same family but from the perspective of the youngest daughter, and focuses on the black sheep of the family, Jack, who returns home after a twenty year absence. Like Gilead it's beautifully written, showing profound insight and theological awareness. In the words of one reviewer it's 'frighteningly sad', and another, 'the saddest book I have loved' and although I was deeply moved there is a quality about it that didn't thoroughly undo me!

Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill is another book with justifiable rave reviews. It concerns a marriage breakdown, but brings particular interest in the context of post 9/11 New York. The writing is brilliant and compelling, and the quirky focus on cricket in the States, makes it a captivating read. Without providing a spoiler, this novel ends on a contrasting note to Home.

Both books were nourishing and life giving, and will be on my favourites list for some time, Home, maybe for ever!

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