When I finished reading Home by Marilynne Robinson earlier this week, I was left thinking about our humanity. I finished her novel Gilead earlier this week and I quickly picked up my ARC of Home. Where Gilead was thoughtful and beautiful throughout the entirety of the book, Home was more direct. Glory drove the story forward, but it was appropriate. In Gilead, Ames was our narrator; thoughful and slow. As one who is preparing to say good-bye. In Home, Robinson focuses on family and faith. There is the wayward child, Jack, who seems to never fit in with his family and then Glory, who feels she does not have a soul. Just as in Gilead, there are several scenes that easily are heart-breaking. Especially as it deals with family and redemption.
On a literary note, with this second novel revolving around the town of Gilead, I couldn’t help but think of Faulkner. Through the second novel Home Robinson continues to set up this fictional town that feels very real. While Ames is not in this story as much, he is still there and seen through the eyes of other characters. The readers get to see a little more of the town of Gilead as Glory interacts with different members and reminisces about past times. While Gilead is not in the South (it is set in Iowa), it rings true of Faulkner’s tradition with his legendary county.
Home easily is a great follow-up to Gilead and I only hope that Robinson will write more stories from the town of Gilead.
I was privileged to receive an advance reading copy of Inkdeath. The surprise and joy felt was great. Cornelia Funke wrote a great ending to her Ink trilogy. What I enjoyed most about reading the story was the passion Mo and Meggie had for books, or actually, manuscripts. I am beginning two short courses on Medieval manuscripts and have been doing extensive reading for both classes (only because I love this subject). And as I read Inkdeath I noticed the book binder and illuminator and the tools they used to create their manuscripts. There is a time when someone is writing in the story, and they write upon parchment, use a glass man to stir the ink, and then brush sand upon the manuscript so that the ink will dry. It was great details like this that makes Funke a great author and storyteller. Just like her character, Mo.
I don’t want to spoil any of the story for anyone, but this story was fantastic and shouldn’t disappoint any fans. Each chapter just spurs the reader on to read more and to never put the book down. With its abundance of characters, there will be someone that everyone loves. Each character’s story is complete and satisfactory. And if you can’t remember the previous books, Inkheart or Inkspell, there is a brief two page recap at the beginning of the book and at the back of the book there is a complete list of characters too (yes, with so many characters it is reminiscent of a Russian novel, except the names are pronounceable).
The only question that Inkdeath leaves, is one that is beginning to be asked at the end of Inkspell, and that is, who is really writing the story of Inkheart? Is it Cornelia? Fenaglio? Orpheus? Or even Mo? Or by entering the story, has the characters actions determined the story? I found myself asking this as I finished Inkdeath. Who is the author? Or were the characters in the end writing their own story?