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Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
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Gilead: A Novel (original 2004; edition 2006)

by Marilynne Robinson (Author)

Series: Gilead (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,909355556 (3.89)1 / 1002
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.
Member:ericadibella
Title:Gilead: A Novel
Authors:Marilynne Robinson (Author)
Info:Picador (2006), Edition: Reprint, 247 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)

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» See also 1002 mentions

English (345)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  Japanese (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (354)
Showing 1-5 of 345 (next | show all)
Pulitzer Prize
  FUMCMoorestown | Oct 6, 2021 |
A beautiful book. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
A book about fathers and sons, including prodigal sons. Sometimes prodigal fathers. John Ames, after many years of widowhood, marries and fathers a son. His heart is failing, the son is only seven, so he resolves to write an account of his life, as well as that of his father and grandfather, that the son can read when he becomes a man. This novel is that account.
Like his father and two grandfathers, Ames is a minister in a small town on the Iowa prairie. He knows no other life. In the course of telling his tale, there is a lot of common sense theology. There is also heartache over his inability to have an honest talk with his godson and namesake, the black sheep son of his lifelong best friend, also a minister. His skill as a pastoral counselor seems to fail him when he needs it most.
Along with that heartache is Ames’s knowledge that he will leave a widow and young son unprovided for. At the same time, the narrator records his love for life. “It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of creation and turns it to radiance—for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again . . . .”
I’m in awe of how well-written this book is, with its conversational tone of voice. It is also the best book I’ve read on what it feels like to be a minister. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
A gentle, philosophical novel in the form of a letter from a dying father to his young son. The father is a minister in Gilead, Iowa, the grandson of a fiery abolitionist minister and the son of a strongly pacifist one. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
I wanted to love this and find it flawless. After all, it won the Pulitzer and it's on Oprah's book list, but I found it slow. I certainly enjoyed the prose and the characters. However, the plot just moved at a snail's pace. It was good, just not great. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Jun 12, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 345 (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."
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robinson, Marilynneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ebnet, Karl-Heinzsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kampmann, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For John and Ellen Summers, my dear father and mother.
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Quotations
This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it (p. 28).
I want your dear perishable self to live long and love this poor perishable world (p.53).
I can't believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life (p. 104).
But if the awkwardness and falseness and failure of religion are interpreted to mean there is no core of truth in it.... the people are disables from trusting their thoughts, their expressions of belief, and their understanding, and even from believing in the essential dignity of their and their neighbors' endlessly flawed experience of belief (p.146).
I conceal my motives from myself pretty effectively sometimes (p. 147).
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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Average: (3.89)
0.5 9
1 76
1.5 8
2 155
2.5 46
3 368
3.5 121
4 656
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