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Lila by Marilynne Robinson
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Lila (2014)

by Marilynne Robinson

Series: Gilead (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,256816,303 (4.08)246
  1. 10
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (charl08)
    charl08: In both novels, key character faces new, difficult choices in new places. Both beautifully written, compelling.
  2. 00
    Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers (Philosofiction)
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English (78)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All (81)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Took me a while because it's been so long since I read Gilead. Marilynne Robinson can write.
  bookczuk | Aug 15, 2017 |
Although the lack of chapter breaks was annoying this was still a very good book. It is a thought provoking conclusion to the Gilead saga. It actually makes me want to reread the other two books.
This story focuses on Lila, a homeless woman who develops a friendship with the local elderly minister, which leads to marriage and then to the birth of a child. During the course of the narrative Lila reflects on her itinerant childhood and younger years. As a result of this she struggles with the settled life that is offered to her now. This is a quiet, reflective novel with a powerful message. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jul 24, 2017 |
I’m still not entirely convinced by Robinson’s books, but they’re so beautifully written I’m prepared to forgive them much. Lila is written from the point of view of the wife of John Ames, the protagonist of Gilead and the patriarch depicted in Home. She was stolen as child, a neglected child, by a woman who calls herself Doll (and who gave Lila her name), and subsequently dragged about the Midwest looking for work. This was during the Great Depression, and anyone who has read Steinbeck, or even seen the film of The Grapes of Wrath, will have some idea of the abject poverty these people experienced. Eventually, Lila fetches up in Gilead as a young woman, and slowly, in much the same way a wild animal would, begins to explore the small town and its inhabitants. She starts working in the pastor’s garden, in return for his unprovoked acts of kindness toward her, and the two sort of drift together until he asks her to marry him and she says yes. While both Lila and Ames are drawn with an impressive amount of sensitivity – and Ames is clearly a remarkably, perhaps a little too remarkably, sensitive man for his time – and the interactions between the two are beautifully-written… but there’s that leap from friends who know very little about each other to marriage that seems somewhat ungrounded. I really do like Robinson’s prose – it’s deceptively simple – and I also really like the gentle pace of her novels, and the depth to which she explores her cast and their various interactions. But… they do also feel like they’re missing an edge, a bit of bite to temper the smoothness. The depiction of Lila’s childhood during the Great Depression is too bland to do the job. It means Robinson’s novels can feel a bit too, well, too pleasant. But still worth reading. ( )
  iansales | Jun 22, 2017 |
2014, MacMillian Audio, Read by Maggie Hoffman

Set in the small Iowa town, and revisiting the familiar characters of Gilead and Home before it, Lila is a moving conclusion to Robinson’s trilogy.

Abandoned as a toddler, Lila is rescued by Doll, a wily drifter – and the two share a hardscrabble existence made bearable by mutual affection. Illiterate and on the run, they life hand-to-mouth, with nothing to their names but a rough blade for protection. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she steps into the town’s small church, seeking shelter from the weather. A romance is ignited between her and Reverend John Ames, which will completely reshape both of their lives. As the two begin a new existence, Lila struggles to reconcile the hardships of her past life with the gentle Christian life she now shares with her husband.

I think both the strength, and perhaps the weakness, of Lila, is the absolute oddity of the marriage between Lila and Ames. Robinson manages the mystery of their existence expertly, but I found the pairing so odd that it almost defied believability. While I personally did not care for Gilead, certainly Jack Boughton and Lila Ames are characters I won’t soon forget. Both Lila and the Gilead trilogy is recommended. ( )
2 vote lit_chick | Mar 1, 2017 |
Lila is a breathtaking achievement, a richly textured novel that somehow equals, perhaps even surpasses, what I regard as one of the great works of contemporary American literature, Gilead. In addition to being a beautiful story about redemption and hope, it is one of the most unflinching depictions of poverty and its effects on the human spirit I've ever read. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time, then reading it again and again. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
With Lila, Marilynne Robinson completes her mythic cycle, this intimate portrait of an imaginary town filled with very real people. Like her forebears James Joyce, William Faulkner and William Kennedy, among others, Robinson has created a world unto itself, as cleanly evoked as Dublin, Yoknapatawpha County or Albany; only in Robinson’s case, her alternate universe is one of the blessed places of the earth.
 
You don’t need an ounce of faith to be stunned and moved by Lila. God has never been so attractive as he is in Robinson’s depiction, but her heart is with the human experience, in all its forms. Lila and Ames are lonely souls, worn out by sadness and suffering, but they learn how to be together and find salvation, of a sort. Robinson writes Lila in a mystifyingly impressive amalgam of recollection and spontaneously unfolding thought. Sometimes you feel the ideas are being born fresh on the page, and yet they also contain a depth of thinking and feeling that only years of work can summon. Taken together, with Lila as the culmination, these books will surely be read and known in time as one of the great achievements of contemporary literature. An embarrassingly grand statement for such gentle, graceful work.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Sophie Elmhirst (Oct 12, 2014)
 
Robinson shakes her finger at whoever she thinks needs to learn a lesson. I’m not saying that great novelists haven’t done this before (see “War and Peace”), only that it didn’t necessarily benefit their work. Robinson writes about religion two ways. One is meliorist, reformist. The other is rapturous, visionary. Many people have been good at the first kind; few at the second kind, at least today.

The second kind is Robinson’s forte.
 
Robinson’s determination to shed light on these complexities—the solitude that endures inside intimacy, the sorrow that persists beside joy—marks her as one of those rare writers genuinely committed to contradiction as an abiding state of consciousness. Her characters surprise us with the depth and ceaseless wrinkling of their feelings.
added by melmore | editThe Atlantic, Leslie Jamison (Sep 17, 2014)
 
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The child was just there on the stoop in the dark, hugging herself against the cold, all cried out and nearly sleeping.
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What could the old man say about all those people born with more courage than they could find a way to spend and then there was nothing to do with it but just get by?
And the old man did look as though every blessing he had forgotten to hope for had descended on him all at once, for the time being.
He was happier than he wanted her to see, relieved even though he knew it was too soon to trust that they were safe yet, and worried that he was too ready to be happy and relieved. After breakfast he set a little glass bowl on the porch railing to catch some snow as it fell, and when he saw it had stopped falling, he took the bowl out to the rosebushes to pluck snow that had caught in the brambles. He brought it inside and set it on the windowsill so the sun would melt it. It was pretty the way the light made kind of a little flame, floating in the middle of the water, burning away in there cold as could be. It was for christening the child, she knew without asking. If the child came struggling into the world, that water would be ready for him. If it had to be his only blessing, then it would be a pure and lovely blessing. That was the old man getting ready to make the best of the worst that could happen. Not my will but thine. In his sermons he was always reminding himself of that prayer.
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Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering that preceded her newfound security.

Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand-to-mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life is laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to harmonize the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband that paradoxically judges those she loves.

Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award Finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.
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