**spoiler alert** Home is a sort of companion piece to Marilynne Robinson's brilliant Gilead. The characters in this novel are the neighbor's of Gilea...more**spoiler alert** Home is a sort of companion piece to Marilynne Robinson's brilliant Gilead. The characters in this novel are the neighbor's of Gilead's main character, John Ames. In Home, Glory Boughton has returned to Gilead to care for her aging father. Unexpectedly, her brother Jack, the black sheep of the family, returns home after being gone for twenty years. This novel doesn't quite live up to Gilead, but it is very good. Robinson tackles the love between family members, particularly siblings, which is something I haven't come across much. Some of the scenes between the elderly father and Jack are heart-breaking. I was disappointed by some of the questions that were left unanswered. Jack leaves his family after fathering an illegitimate child by a young girl. I longed to know what happened between him and this girl and why it happened, since the event was the catalyst for so much drama in this book and Gilead. Glory's love for Jack is moving, but I found myself wondering why the story was not told from Jack's point-of-view, since he is the true main character. It seems that the story is seen through Glory's eyes for a twist ending involving Jack that I saw coming from a mile away and that was obvious, if not downright cliche.(less)
The Year of Magical Thinking was well-written, but it didn't knock my socks off. It's a memoir of her husband's death and her daughter's serious illne...moreThe Year of Magical Thinking was well-written, but it didn't knock my socks off. It's a memoir of her husband's death and her daughter's serious illness. I've never read any of Didion's other work, and this is probably a bad book to start with. It seems to assume that the reader will be familiar with her other work and her husband's (John Gregory Dunne) work as well. I do want to read her husband's book Dutch Shea Jr. just based on the small exert that was in The Year of Magical Thinking. Ultimately, I didn't think that Didion had anything new or unexpected to say about grief and loss. I don't think that this is a book that would have published if the author hadn't already been a famous author. Unless you're a big Didion fan or you are especially interested in grief, I would definitely wait for the paperback version. (less)
**spoiler alert** I desperately wanted to like I'll Steal You Away (mostly because I bought it in hardback), but I was disappointed. The book, which i...more**spoiler alert** I desperately wanted to like I'll Steal You Away (mostly because I bought it in hardback), but I was disappointed. The book, which is set in Italy, tells the story of a little boy who is tormented by the other kids and the aging local lothario who moves back to town after his showgirl girlfriend breaks his heart. The two do come together in the end, but it mostly feels like you're reading two different books. Ammaniti also has the tendency to randomly dump pages of back story into the action of the novel.
My favorite part of the book is when the lothario seduces the spinster school teacher. What can I say, I have a natural affinity for spinsters. But this part of the plot gets lost among the numerous sub-plots. I'm not the sort of reader who insists on a happy ending, but Ammaniti wreaks a gratuitous amount of misery on every single character. Overall, this book feels like the rough draft of a great novel. Sometimes I feel more frustrated reading a book that misses by an inch than I do when a book misses by a mile, because I wonder why no editor helped the author fix the problems. (less)