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Marilynne Robinson

Author of Gilead

18+ Works 27,093 Members 932 Reviews 141 Favorited

About the Author

Marilynne Robinson's first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Her other novels include Mother Country and Lila. Gilead won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award and Home won the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her show more nonfiction books include When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, and The Death of Adam. She was the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama. She received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction in 2016. She has been named the winner of the Richard C Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award as part of the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She was included on Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead (2004) 10,806 copies
Housekeeping (1980) — Author — 6,352 copies
Home (2008) 3,788 copies
Lila (2014) 2,509 copies
Jack (2020) 830 copies
Reading Genesis (2024) 73 copies
Mother Country (1989) 66 copies

Associated Works

The Sound and the Fury (1929) — Foreword, some editions — 17,253 copies
The Awakening (1899) — Introduction, some editions — 9,173 copies
The Awakening and Selected Short Stories {9 stories} (1899) — Introduction, some editions — 1,129 copies
The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Contributor — 627 copies
The Best American Essays 2007 (2007) — Contributor — 471 copies
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016 (2016) — Contributor — 109 copies
Granta 15: The Fall of Saigon (1985) — Contributor — 97 copies
The Granta Book of Reportage (Classics of Reportage) (1993) — Contributor — 94 copies
The Virago Book of Wanderlust and Dreams (1998) — Contributor — 36 copies
The Best Spiritual Writing 2012 (2011) — Contributor — 27 copies
The New Salmagundi Reader (1996) — Contributor — 3 copies


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Common Knowledge



Gilead in Someone explain it to me... (July 2014)


Recommended by Beth Boyce. Wonderful..
AugustanaLibrary | 1 other review | Apr 10, 2024 |
I've read two out of the four Gilead novels. The last one I read, Jack, I didn't like nearly as much as Gilead. So I thought I would try this earlier novel of Robinson's to see if it was her early writing that I liked. This book was more engaging than Jack was but still not up to the standards of Gilead.

The novel's main character is Ruth. She and her sister Lucille were brought to the small town of Fingerbone, on the edge of a largish lake, by their mother. She dropped them off at her mother's house, who wasn't home at the time, and then drove off. A few hours later she drove her car into the lake in what was probably suicide. The lake had also claimed the life of the girls' grandfather when the train on which he was crew went off the bridge across the lake with no survivors. The grandmother looked after the girls up until her death. Then two maiden great-aunts came to take over looking after them. They were completely unused to children and were consumed with nervousness. They contacted the girls' Aunt Sylvie who had been living a nomadic life around the western United States. When she finally turned up the great-aunts lost no time in fleeing the house and the children and the town. At first, Sylvie seemed like a much better choice but as the weeks and months went by, she proved that she had no aptitude for living in one place or looking after two young children. Ruth was quite taken with Sylvie but Lucille finally had enough and went to live with one of her teachers. Ruth and Sylvie kept living in the house but in no sense of the word did they "keep house". When Ruth started skipping school and spending more time with Sylvie, sometimes on the lake in a borrowed rowboat, it was obvious that the end of their living in Fingerbone was coming near. And so, one day, they hopped on a train and took off.

This was quite a sad book what with the child abandonment and failure to provide the necessities of life by all the adults in Ruth's life. Also, the men just seemed to have dropped out of existence which does happen but certainly impacts how children grow up.

I have to say that there were some wonderful passages in this book. Robinson is a fine writer, maybe even a gifted writer, but she will never be a favourite for me.
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1 vote
gypsysmom | 212 other reviews | Apr 7, 2024 |
I previously read Marilynne Robinson's four Gilead novels, and only now this Housekeeping, written 25 years earlier, and that may be the wrong order. I definitely recognized the very controlled, refined writing style; Robinson is a first-class craftswoman who writes heavily charged sentences in a misleadingly poetic upmake. And I also recognized the emphasis on sensorial introspection: just as in the Gilead novels, the main character (here Ruth Foster) constantly alternates between registering her own sensory experiences and reflecting on what that does to her, and on the things she struggles with. Here Robinson approaches what the 19th century naturalists and symbolists did, by focusing on the threat posed by the environment in which this story takes place: the remote, chilly village of Fingerbone (the name alone), on a large lake in Idaho, connected with the outside world by a railway bridge that runs over the water. The tone is set right from the start: Ruth tells how her grandfather died when a train derailed on the bridge, ended up in the lake and was never recovered (and neither the bodies of the passengers within). And less than 20 pages later we read how her own mother committed suicide by driving her car off a cliff into the lake. The 'gothic flavor' of this novel is also emphasized further on, including in an unparalleled nocturnal scene in which the house is half flooded; darkness and obscurity clearly are recurring themes in Robinson.
But the main body of this novel describes how Ruth, together with her sister Lucille, subsequently came under the care of her aunt Sylvie, a confused, chaotic and very dreamy character. Robinson writes quite emphatically: “it was the beginning of Sylvie's housekeeping”, and in doing so she immediately provides us with a key to reading this novel. After all, it is not only about the struggle to keep the house (literally), but also about keeping it 'in order', and by extension also one's own life. Looking back on it, you notice that all the characters in this novel struggle with this: getting a grip on their own lives, curbing the inherent chaos of life and steering it in the right direction, and what you have to give up and sacrifice in doing so, and whether such an orderly life is actually the right choice. And all that aggravated by the struggle with loss, grief, isolation and loneliness, especially as a woman or a girl.
In other words, through Ruth Foster's coming-of-age story, Robinson opens up a reflection on what this life is all about and whether it makes sense to control it. To be clear: she does not give simple, obvious answers, but above all - through Ruth - asks the right questions. And thus there is a link with the Gilead novels, which essentially deal with the same theme, but with a clear, more religious - read Calvinist - slant, in which the question of good and evil, damnation and grace are more central. I think that Robinson definitely shows even more mastery in some of those Gilead novels, both stylistically and substantively, but with this 'Housekeeping' she already showed that her novels are among the best of what has been written in recent decades, worldwide.
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bookomaniac | 212 other reviews | Mar 15, 2024 |
Reason read: botm 3/2024, Reading 1001. This is a novel about family, family secrets, passing generations, forgiveness, and death. I read the first book set in Gilead and this is the second book. The characters are Glory and her prodigal brother Jack. The Reverend Robert Boughton is old and dying. Glory has come home to take care of her dad and Jack has returned hoping to mend fences with himself and his family.

I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed Gilead and I've read Housekeeping. I want to read Lila and Jack. I find the stories good because they're about family not that I think the authors Christian values are perfect because I don't think they are but I also think that would make for good discussions.

This book won the Orange Prize of what is now the Women's Prize. 2009
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Kristelh | 148 other reviews | Mar 12, 2024 |


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