Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2005
National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2005In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowan preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition: He "preached men into the Civil War", then, at age 50, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle. Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father, an ardent pacifist, and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend's wayward son.
This is also the tale of another remarkable vision, not a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames's soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten.
Gilead is the long-hoped-for second novel by one of our finest writers, a hymn of praise and lamentation to the God-haunted existence that Reverend Ames loves passionately, and from which he will soon part.
©2004 Marilynne Robinson; (P)2005 BBC Audiobooks America, Published by Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"Gilead is a beautiful work: demanding, grave, and lucid...Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction." (The New York Times Book Review)
"The long wait has been worth it....Robinson's prose is beautiful, shimmering, and precise....Destined to become her second classic." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Gilead] is so serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it." (The Washington Post Book World)
Beautiful story that captures the essence of a life lived in remembrance, long awaited grace, grief of pending loss, acceptance and finally forgiveness and astonishing revelation of love. The vocal narrator captured the Pastor's essence and soul. Recommended for those of us who treasure a great story in the line of Styron and Faulkner (with a MIDWEST setting.) I think I will now "pray and then sleep"
Such a clever, clever book. It takes you to quite unexpected places - Gileadites, the prodigal son who leaves again and again, a patriarchy of pastors who are blind to their world and yet acutely observant of human nature but ignorant of what is directly in front of them. The invention of God and a turn on Feuerbach. I've been to Iowa. It'll never be the same. I would be happy to read this again. There's also a lot of joy in this book. Calvin gets a lot of cameos. Super American book, by which I mean it mines some themes that are v. Interesting to outsiders like me, e, g. John Brown. This is a beautifully nuanced piece of writing.
... its moral and social value, its contemplation of familial and spiritual and fraternal and paternal issues from the heart of a dying father, written to his young late-life son. Do not miss this one.
I read a number of reviews and thought I would love this book. It was OK. It's nice to read a pleasant work of fiction that looks into Christian values. There were moments I thought were insightful, but I was mostly bored listening to this.
The narrator was the right selection, I just didn't find the plot very engaging.
The story was alright, with some interesting Midwestern historical notes. But it was a bit hard to stay engaged with, at times. There are some truly fascinating religious reflections, however, that have been cause for much reflection for me.
Tim Jerome was incredible. He brought so much emotion and feeling to John Ames's story. It definitely added a dimension to the story and enhanced my enjoyment.
I've read several Pulitzer books, and I probably enjoyed this one the most. The language is so clear, so vivid that it truly brings the characters and story to life. The book was a bit slow in the middle, but the journey through John Ames's life and journey through the last stages of his life are poignant to touching.
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