Home, by Marilynne Robinson is set in the same fictional Iowa town Gilead as (Robinson's last novel) . I really enjoyed the audio version of Gilead when I listened to it, and I also enjoyed her earlier book: Housekeeping.
In Home, Jack Boughton, is the prodigal son, one of the eight children of Robert Boughton, the former Gilead, Iowa, pastor, who now, in 1957, is a widowed and dying man. Jack returns home after a 20 year absence, shortly after his sister Glory, 38, the youngest of the children, moves in to nurse their father. It is through Glory's eyes that we see Jack's drama unfold. When Glory last saw Jack, she was 16, and he was leaving Gilead with a bad reputation, having gotten an underage girl pregnant. By his account, he'd since lived as a vagrant, drunk and jailbird until he met a woman named Della in St. Louis. Little by little throughout the book we see Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but when Jack's letters to Della are returned unopened, Glory has to deal with Jack's relapse into bad habits and the effect it has on their father.
Although it is not necessary to read Gilead before reading Home, I would recommend it. Out of the (3) books by the author, Home was my least favorite. I found parts of it painfully slow, as I read page after page, in detail, of the family's daily activities: cooking, sitting on a porch, gardening etc. The one redeeming fact was that the author's writing was beautiful, so it made even the mundane a bit more interesting. One other point--- I would consider this book Christian Fiction. If this does not bother you then give this book a try.
RATING - 4/5 - COMPLETED - 9/29/08