Gilead, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)

Description

In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears. 'It is a book of such meditative calm, such spiritual intensity that is seems miraculous that her silence was only for 23 years; such measure of wisdom is the fruit of a lifetime. Robinson's prose, aligned with the sublime simplicity of the language of the bible, is nothing short of a benediction.

You might not share its faith, but it is difficult not to be awed moved and ultimately humbled by the spiritual effulgence that lights up the novel from within' Neel Mukherjee, The Times 'Writing of this quality, with an authority as unforced as the perfect pitch in music, is rare and carries with it a sense almost of danger - that at any moment, it might all go wrong.

In Gilead, however, nothing goes wrong' Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph

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Reviews

Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by
5

This is a slow book to read, but one worth the journey.

Review by
4

This is a very moving book, written in the form of memoirs from the point of view of an aging, dying minister to his young son. He wants to give his son, who is only seven years old, a sense of who he is and where he has come from.The writing is slow, as one other reviewer has mentioned, and very deliberate, as it would be from a man in his seventies who has spent his life in the service of his parishioners. In writing his memoirs, he takes the opportunity to reflect on his own life in the context of his family history and his close relationship with another minister and his family.It was interesting to read this so soon after Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture". In this case, Pausch was a real person, much younger than the minister in Gilead, but who was really dying and really wanted to leave something behind for his three young children. Pausch's novel is much less a reflection, and move of an observation on his own values and beliefs.I haven't read anything else by Marilynne Robinson, but would be interested in doing so.

Review by
5
"For me, writing has always felt like praying, even when I wasn't writing prayers, as I was often enough. You feel that you are with someone. I feel I am with you now, whatever that can mean, considering that you're only a little fellow now and when you're a man you might find these letters of no interest. Or they might never reach you for any number of reasons. Well, but how deeply I regret any sadness you have suffered and how grateful I am in anticipation of any good you have enjoyed. That is to say, I pray for you. And there's an intimacy in it. That's the truth."In 1956 the Reverend John Ames of Gilead, Iowa sits down to write a letter to his seven year old son. He's an old man with a young wife and child and he's just been told by his doctors that he has a serious heart condition and may not have much longer to live. Gilead is his letter to his son; it's about Ames' life in Gilead, his relationships with his father and grandfather, the early death of his first wife and daughter, his time spent alone as a minister and his troubled relationship with his friend's son, his namesake John Ames (Jack) Broughton. Although written by a man who has lived most of his live in a small town in American, Robinson also touches on the wider events of the American Civil War in which Ames' grandfather was involved as well as race relations in the 1950s through the story of Jack Broughton.This is not a book to try and force yourself to read; my copy has sat unread on my shelves for the best part of two years but even though I loved it when I eventually read it, I still feel that I needed to wait until it was the right time to read it. It's a slow and reflective book, one to read in a contemplative mood. It's a love letter from a father to his son and it's wonderful."I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you."
Review by
4.5

I love it when my favorite quote in a book appears in another review already posted here on LT. The quote is this:"There have been heroes here, and saints and martyrs, and I want you to know that. Because that is the truth, even if no one remembers it. To look at the place, it's just a cluster of houses strung along a few roads, and a little row of brick buildings with stores in them, and a grain elevator and a water tower with Gilead written on its side, and the post office and the schools and the playing fields and the old train station, which is pretty well gone to weeds now. But what must Galilee have looked like? You can't tell so much from the appearance of a place."Thanks akosikulot-project52!It took me 8 days to finish this Pulitzer Prize winner, mainly because I wanted to savor it and would stop reading it to ponder a statement or thought presented in the book. I found this to be a fascinating mingling of fictional story telling with theological arguments and moral reasoning. Our narrator is the fictional Reverend John Ames. It is 1956 in Gilead, Iowa, a small "dogged little outpost in the sand hills, within striking distance of Kansas" and the Reverend, who is in his late 70's, is documenting for his young son his begets of three generations and any pearls of wisdom the Reverend hopes to pass on. The letter - or maybe it is a journal? - has a beautiful, melodious rhythm to it, at times confessional in nature, as the Reverend touches on the events that have happened in his lifetime - the droughts, the influenza outbreaks, the Depression, the three terrible wars - Civil War, World War I and World War II -and the relationships with and between his father and grandfather, both reverends in their own right.Now, some of the theology in the book was a little over my head but I think the book, at least for me, was more about conveying a trip down memory lane and how with age and experience comes wisdom and the ability to examine earlier, younger impressions and judgments with a view that the earlier impressions may have been misguided or even harsh. The rambling nature of the narrative was comforting and inviting but I have to admit that on reflection, as much as I loved this story, I really cannot remember a lot of the points that were touched upon. I remember the argument presented regarding the 10 commandments but that is because I completely agree with it:"There are the Ten Commandments, of course, and I know you will have been particularly aware of the Fifth Commandment, Honour your father and your mother. I draw attention to it because Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine are enforced by the criminal and civil laws and by social custom. The Tenth Commandment is unenforceable, even by oneself, even with the best will in the world, and it is violated constantly...... I believe the sin of covetise is that pang of resentment you may feel when even the people you love best have what you want and don't have."Inward examination and reflection is an amazing ability we all posses and I felt this book was a perfect example of this. Balanced, with a perfect pitch and flow, I felt a peaceful harmony with the characters, the town of Gilead and the theological discussion that flowed from the pages like the slow flowing of molasses.In a word: Beautiful

Review by
4

A gentle, warm, honest book to read slowly.Choice bits include: "As it was my heart froze in me and I thought, This is not my child - which I had truly never thought of any child before. I don't know exactly what covetise is, but in my experience it is not so much desiring someone else's virtue or happiness as rejecting it, taking offense at the beauty of it."and"It is one of the best traits of good people that they love where they pity. And this is truer of women than of men. So they get themselves drawn into situations that are harmful to them. I have seen this happen many, many times. I have always had trouble finding a way to caution against it. Since it is, in a word, Christlike."

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