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In My Father's House

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  389 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
A story of a man brought to reckon with his buried past. Reverend Martin comes face to face with the sins of his youth in the person of Robert X, a young, unkempt stranger who arrives in town for a mysterious "meeting" with the Reverend.
ebook, 224 pages
Published October 24th 2012 by Vintage (first published 1978)
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In My Father's House: Ernest Gaines' Novel of Living with One's Past

In My Father's House by Ernest J. Gaines, published in 1978, was chosen by members of On the Southern Literary Trail as a Group Read for January, 2015. Special thanks to Trail Member Jane of the UK, who nominated Professor Gaines' riveting novel of the inability to escape the consequences of one's past.

Ernest Gaines Walks Near his Birthplace

"In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have t
Reverend Philip Martin is an upstanding black Civil Rights leader and minister living in a small Louisiana town in the 1970s. He grew up in poverty, but found God and his calling in working for the black community. Now he's a respected husband and father. A young man from his past comes into town carrying a gun, full of anger and seeking revenge against Philip Martin. Philip finds that all his current good works cannot make up for his past mistakes when he selfishly avoided his responsibility fo ...more
Diane Barnes
Jan 12, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Ernest Gaines book I've read, and I concur with his fans that he is a powerful and important writer. His language is simple and spare, very descriptive and emotional. I loved this book and read it quickly. Even though it was a mere 215 pages, there was a lot of action, and a lot of inner turmoil in the characters. It took place in 1970, just 2 years after the death of Martin Luther King, and the main character was also a minister who had made a name for himself as a civil right ...more
Powerful! Gaines makes this book so enticing and easy to read that it was hard to put this book down. The characters will torture your soul. The dialogue between the characters feel as though I was actually in the room with them, experiencing every detail. This book was a group read for On the Southern Literary Trail. This was a phenomenal read. I recommend it, highly!!!!
Jun 26, 2010 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ernest J. Gaines's novel In My Father's House is set in Louisiana around 1970. The Rev. Philip Martin is a civil rights leader in the declining years of a movement whose strongest, most visible members have been killed. The gains the movement has made, however significant, mean little in the daily lives of black Americans in the deep South.

What, after all, is the point of being able to sit at lunch counters, share water fountains, ride on buses with white people if you can't confront the truth
In My Father's House is both simple and dense, which is a rare combination. The plot, prose, and characters at first seem extremely straightforward, almost to the point of cliche - the mysterious and threatening figure in the book shows up on a dark and rainy night. But once the book taught me how to read it, I saw that the simplicity of the text was emblematic of one of the themes of the book, that the simplicity of our outward lives echo a more distorted and complicated self. I loved the echoe ...more
(FROM JACKET)IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE is the compelling novel of a man brought to reckon with his buried past. In St. Adrienne, a small rural black community in Louisiana, Reverend Phillip Martin-a respected minister and civil rights leader, devoted husband and father, a man of strength and rectitude-comes face to face with the sins of his youth in the person of Robert X, a young, unkempt, vaguely sinister stranger who arrives in town for a mysterious "meeting" with the Reverend. In the confrontatio ...more
This was a good read. This story took you through times when people of color were still fighting for their rights. It also, told of a man who was wild as a young man that became a leader in his community. While he was living life his pass was looking for revenge, because of the troubles in there lives.
Dec 16, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, southern
This could have been an all-night read, but I forced myself to pace myself and put it down. Gripping from the mysterious start following the tormented loner - the son - to his encounter with the upright community leader - the father - and then the aftermath as the father faces his own failings. Beautifully constructed narrative.
Mar 22, 2009 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my most recent Ernest J. Gains book. Again, beautifully written, attention grabbing right from the beginning through to the end. The characters were well thought out and the story true to life. A fantastic read, highly recommended. :)
Jan 30, 2012 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Despite the rave reviews from most people, the beginning of this book is so slow and dry that it was hard to make it very far. I wanted, really wanted, to get into this one. The writing is bland and the characters are flat and the plot just takes too long to progress.
Katherine Bennett-wilson
It wasn't a bad read but I thought the author left something out at the end . In discussing that with a few of my book club members , a few felt that way too. The question is this his writing style? In a Lesson Before Dying ,it also felt unfinished.. It is a good choice for a book club read.
Diane S ☔
Jan 08, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow.
Tanisa Bernard
Dec 09, 2012 Tanisa Bernard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classy author writing classic books!

Mar 14, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaines is perhaps best known for writing "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and "A Lesson Before Dying." Like most writers he has written a few more than "the famous ones." Gaines came of age in rural Louisiana and also in California, moving there at 15. He became a reader and a writer in Vallejo, California. The town once had a lovely Carnegie library and there Gaines, in his own words, has said he "started reading and reading and reading. I fell in love with books." A very interesting ta ...more
Ana Mardoll
Feb 18, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
In My Father's House / 0-679-72791-4

In this incredible novel, Gaines delves into the pain of divided loyalties and the guilt of unfulfilled promises.

When a local leader for black rights is confronted by the arrival of the son he has never known, he must choose whether to stand by the community he knows and loves or the son that he abandoned. The young man is locked up by the police and the civil rights leader is told in no uncertain terms that the only way to save his son is to cancel an upcomin
Vintrelle Howard
Apr 21, 2009 Vintrelle Howard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most definately
Recommended to Vintrelle by: no one
This is a wonderful book... I think it was a book for many individuals that doesn't understand what is it like to be abandon by a parent... and the impact it is on both the child/parent... This book is filled with tears and joy... tears because I am a single parent and I want nothing more for my children to know both parents and joy because there is always a second chance eventhough the father in the book didn't get that... it was too late because the pain was too deep for the child... He killed ...more
Oct 13, 2007 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I do like Gaines writing. i was not thrilled with this plot. Reverend Phillip Martin is a well respected civil rights leader in the small town in Louisiana. one night at a meeting at his home he notices a young man. upon seeing him Rev. Martin falls to the floor - feigns illness and is cared for.

It turns out that Rev Martin recognizes this young man as his own son - the son he has never seen. Most of the book goes to what appears to me a bit of insanity as Rev. Martin throws over all he has wor
Tonia  Smith
Mar 27, 2016 Tonia Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my Father's House

A great read. I a!m officially hook on this author. I love that his stories are very readable. The main character the Rev Martin definitely has his plate full. As a leader in his community \church he goes all out to put everything and everyone first. Let us not forget he is now a changed man that has put him in this role. And for once his chose himself over everything and everyone which came with consequences. By trying to correct his past he comes close to sacrificing his fa
Oct 25, 2013 Bridget rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In My Father's House" is a simple and powerful tale of Rev. Phillip Martin, who has spent a good chunk of his life running from, and trying to redeem, his past by serving as a respected civil rights leader in a Louisiana church. Rev. Martin is married to the subservient Alma, with whom he has three children, and life appears to be good. All that changes when a mysterious young man known as Robert X rents a room at a nearby boarding house. The story that unfolds is gripping and hard to put down. ...more
Burgess (Burgie)
This is my second by this author. Both I couldn't hardly stop once starting.

Sometimes when I find a new author to read all their works, I wish I'd done so in chronological order. But, I have to remind myself, how would I know ahead of time...and it would be ridiculous to only read an author's 1st work, in case I wanted to binge after on the rest. Plus, who wants to wait on library holds? Not I. Which is why I ended up with this instead of another already on my "to-read" shelf.

Stay tuned for more
Mar 09, 2014 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un beau roman qui se déroule autour d'un Pasteur afro-américain militant dont la vie est soudainemant perturbé par la présence d'un jeune homme qui rode autour de sa maison....on peut reprocher un début un peu lent du fait des dialogues tranchés et peut-être un manque d'éclairage sur l'histoire ancienne du Pasteur et les raisons qui l'ont conduit à ces différents choix !
un livre qui invite à découvrir davantage l'oeuvre de Gaines
Nov 10, 2015 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ernest Gaines, In My Father’s House. This novel runs just like a strong locomotive, from the beginning until the devastating—but amazing and redemptive—end. Unlike A Gathering of Old Men, which lands plenty of humor amid the drama, this novel's tone comes across more like a Greek tragedy’s. A plus is that the novel conveys the disarray Blacks nationwide were undergoing after Martin Luther King's assassination. An amazing read, with amazing characters.
Ned Mozier
The story did not grab me, and was a series of vignettes that ended abruptly. I appreciated the burden of a man in leadership outrunning his past, but the characters were a little thin and the story did not compel me. Seemed to be gray and rainy every day (or else Gaines just forgot to change the weather). Not real anxious to read another by him. We might be done.
Dorothy Stephens

This is a story about a man who throws his future to recoup the past. I gave it the rating of three stars because it left unanswered questions: Why Etienne and not the offspring of four or five others? Would you really recognize a child you had not seen for 23 years? The ending left unsolved feelings for the wife whom he never allowed in.
Michelle Robinson
This for me, was one of the best books I ever read. I read it when I was in my late twenties and I am glad that I did! It is a Ernest J. Gaines book that I had not heard much about.

What I loved about the book was that I could identify with the people. I recognized people I knew in the charachters. It is a keeper for me. I would read it again and again.
It was extremely slow. However a very interesting cast of characters. After slowly pulling through three quarters of the book, the end makes it worth while. It is a quick explosion of characters, egos and relationships. Making it almost exciting enough for someone to put on stage.
May 17, 2016 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book supports my opinion of Ernest Gaines: he's a great author that writes about the lives of every day people, and, in doing so, exposes the most challenging and difficult things about life--especially life for a Black man.
Mar 28, 2013 Aisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes you on a journey. Opens you up to the secrets people hide and try to keep hidden in order to maintain their status quo, but is all about forgivness. This book sheeds light on how to forgive and who to forgive in order to move on with life.
Jun 08, 2015 Shelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Gaines style. The story didn't really captivate me, but it was well written. I liked a Lesson Before Dying better.
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Born to a sharecropping family, Ernest Gaines was picking cotton in the fields by age nine and only attended school five or six months a year. When he was fifteen, he moved to California to join his mother who had relocated during World War II, and began writing. He attended San Francisco State University, served in the army, and won a writing fellowship to Stanford University. Gaines has been a M ...more
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