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Gilead (2004)

by Marilynne Robinson

Series: Gilead (1)

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9,444339554 (3.9)1 / 970
In 1956, as a minister approaches the end of his life, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.
Recently added byprivate library, agh19, Ken-Me-Old-Mate, RSM_library, bcsclibrary, kohrmanmj, MendoLibrary
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English (328)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  Japanese (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (337)
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
Such a beauty. It started slow and in one direction but soon shifted elsewhere. Loved his voice and worries, the life story, the prose
  davidwarwick | Sep 20, 2020 |
Sorry to say I could not get past 60 pages on this one. I had enough of the dull, rambling passages, overbearing religiosity, self important protagonist and lack of any semblance of plot. Pulitzer prize mu foot. ( )
  Misprint | Aug 31, 2020 |
Consistently paced and very engrossing, this is a moral tale told of a small town in Iowa in the 1950s, but also of the idea of ethical codes and contemplation on life in general - as if someone took a Flannery O'Connor story and stretched it out. Appreciably simple use of language. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
Bumping this one up from 4 stars to 5 stars on re-read. This time I read it slowly, 10 or 20 pages each day, and I think that let it sink in better and impact me more deeply. Given sufficient attention, this is a beautiful book (as its narrator might argue that given sufficient attention, many things become more beautiful and more holy than otherwise perceived). ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
Gilead is the story of three generations of Congregationalist preachers in Iowa and Kansas. It is told through a letter from John Ames, the latest generation preacher, who is dying to his young son.

I found the incorporated history very interesting. The abolitionist grandfather moved from Maine to Kansas to affect the new state's decision on slavery.

While I enjoyed the interior monologues of Ames regarding life and religion, I would have liked more about the characters. The characters of Ames, his grandfather, and his best friend, Boughton really got me invested.

I believe the characters are revisited in Robinson's Home and Lila. Will definitely reading those as well.

Favorite line: To be useful was the best thing the old men ever hoped for themselves, and to be aimless was their worst fear.

[bc:Home|2924318|Home (Gilead, #2)|Marilynne Robinson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1426188598s/2924318.jpg|2951639] [bc:Lila|20575411|Lila (Gilead, #3)|Marilynne Robinson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1393645345s/20575411.jpg|26208371] by [a:Marilynne Robinson|7491|Marilynne Robinson|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1256021025p2/7491.jpg]

( )
  JWhitsitt | Jun 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
But in Gilead, Robinson is addressing the plight of serious people with a calm-eyed reminder of the liberal philosophical and religious traditions of a nation whose small towns "were once the bold ramparts meant to shelter peace", citing a tradition of intellectual discursiveness and a historical cycle that shifts from radical to conservative then back to radical again, and presenting, as if from the point of view of time's own blindness, an era when unthinkable things were happening but were themselves about to change unimaginably, for the better. It takes issue with the status quo by being a message, across generations, from a now outdated status quo. "What have I to leave you but the ruins of old courage, and the lore of old gallantry and hope?"
added by melmore | editThe Guardian (UK), Ali Smith (Apr 15, 2005)
 
Gradually, Robinson's novel teaches us how to read it, suggests how we might slow down to walk at its own processional pace, and how we might learn to coddle its many fine details. Nowadays, when so many writers are acclaimed as great stylists, it's hard to make anyone notice when you praise a writer's prose. There is, however, something remarkable about the writing in 'Gilead.' It's not just a matter of writing well, although Robinson demonstrates that talent on every page [...] Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction -- what Ames means when he refers to 'grace as a sort of ecstatic fire that takes things down to essentials.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, James Wood (Nov 28, 2004)
 
Marilynne Robinson draws on all of these associations in her new novel, which -- let's say this right now -- is so serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it. Gilead possesses the quiet ineluctable perfection of Flaubert's "A Simple Heart" as well as the moral and emotional complexity of Robert Frost's deepest poetry. There's nothing flashy in these pages, and yet one regularly pauses to reread sentences, sometimes for their beauty, sometimes for their truth: "Adulthood is a wonderful thing, and brief. You must be sure to enjoy it while it lasts."
 
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Dedication
For John and Ellen Summers, my dear father and mother.
First words
I told you last night that I might be gone sometime and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I'm old, and you said, I don't think you're old.
Quotations
It all means more than I can tell you. So you must not judge what I know by what I find words for.
But it has all been one day, that first day. Light is constant, we just turn over in it. So every day is in fact the selfsame evening and morning.
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.
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.
A little too much anger, too often or at the wrong time, can destroy more than you would ever imagine.
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In 1956, as a minister approaches the end of his life, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.

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Book description
Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with a story about father and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage in America's heart. In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human conditions and "manages to convey the miracle of existence itself." (0-312-42440-X)
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