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By: Marilynne Robinson

Although no one but me would notice, I’m a little sheepish about recommending Marilynne Robinson’s new book, Home, given that in last month’s Bowdoin magazine I recommended the new president read Robinson’s earlier book Gilead. I do read other authors—really—but I love Robinson’s writing. Her language is exquisite and her stories are lovingly told. Home is a companion book to Gilead in that Robinson continues the lives of many of the characters from the first book. In Home a sister and brother return home as adults after troubling experiences in their lives to live with their aged father, a pastor in the small, rural town of Gilead, Iowa. The novel is set in the late 1950s. What I love about Home and Gilead is that Robinson asks the big questions—what does it mean to come home, do we deserve to be loved—in a place and with characters who are simple and sparse. I grew up in Chicago in the 1950s but have relatives who still live in rural Iowa towns like Gilead. As a kid I spent time on their farms in Bode, Ft. Dodge, St. Joe’s. Robinson’s portrayal of Gilead reminds me so much of that time and place in my own life.

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