Thursday, March 14, 2013


by Marilynne Robinson
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.

Reverend John Ames nears the end of his life in Gilead, Iowa in 1956, and begins writing reflections for his young son to read after he dies. He touches on family, faith, and much more, meandering as old people will from one subject to the other. Throughout, we see a lovely picture of a man who is the son and grandson of preachers, lived through two world wars, and yet loves this messed up world.

I'm not sure I can adequately describe the sheer pleasure of reading this book. It's more of a character study than a plot-heavy book. The writing is poetic, lyrical, and thought-provoking whether one happens to share John Ames' faith or not. The narrative flow from subject to subject felt completely natural to an old man thinking of one thing after another, with the start and stop of many days of sitting down to write as long as he could manage each day, yet it was perfectly crafted, not one word wasted. I was sorry to leave Gilead behind.

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