Housekeeping (1981) will find that the long wait has been worth it. From the first page of her second novel, the voice of "/>


Marilynne Robinson, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (247p) ISBN 978-0-374-15389-2

Fans of Robinson's acclaimed debut Housekeeping (1981) will find that the long wait has been worth it. From the first page of her second novel, the voice of Rev. John Ames mesmerizes with his account of his life—and that of his father and grandfather. Ames is 77 years old in 1956, in failing health, with a much younger wife and six-year-old son; as a preacher in the small Iowa town where he spent his entire life, he has produced volumes and volumes of sermons and prayers, "[t]rying to say what was true." But it is in this mesmerizing account—in the form of a letter to his young son, who he imagines reading it when he is grown—that his meditations on creation and existence are fully illumined.

Ames details the often harsh conditions of perishing Midwestern prairie towns, the Spanish influenza and two world wars. He relates the death of his first wife and child, and his long years alone attempting to live up to the legacy of his fiery grandfather, a man who saw visions of Christ and became a controversial figure in the Kansas abolitionist movement, and his own father's embittered pacifism. During the course of Ames's writing, he is confronted with one of his most difficult and long-simmering crises of personal resentment when John Ames Boughton (his namesake and son of his best friend) returns to his hometown, trailing with him the actions of a callous past and precarious future. In attempting to find a way to comprehend and forgive, Ames finds that he must face a final comprehension of self—as well as the worth of his life's reflections.

Robinson's prose is beautiful, shimmering and precise; the revelations are subtle but never muted when they come, and the careful telling carries the breath of suspense. There is no simple redemption here; despite the meditations on faith, even readers with no religious inclinations will be captivated. Many writers try to capture life's universals of strength, struggle, joy and forgiveness—but Robinson truly succeeds in what is destined to become her second classic. Agent, Ellen Levine. 5-city author tour. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Show other formats
Book - 978-1-4272-2869-7
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-374-70609-8
Book - 978-0-7927-6742-8
Hardcover - 386 pages - 978-0-7862-7201-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-374-70504-6
Acrobat Ebook Reader - 978-0-374-70500-8
Book - 978-0-7927-3433-8
Book - 978-0-7927-3434-5
Book - 7 pages - 978-1-59397-822-8
Paperback - 247 pages
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-84408-336-7
Paperback - 386 pages - 978-1-59413-124-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7927-4116-9
Hardcover - 282 pages - 978-1-84408-147-9
Hardcover - 247 pages - 978-0-00-639383-2
Paperback - 282 pages - 978-1-84408-148-6
Hardcover - 247 pages - 978-0-00-200588-3
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.