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)
I love books!
I originally listened to this book when it came out 10 years ago, mainly because the author was a professor at the University of Iowa, which I attended, and she is still part of the Iowa Writer's Workshop there even today in her 70's.In the ensuing 10 years she published two more books, "Home" and "Lila" also set in the fictional SW Iowa town, Gilead, with the same characters. After listening to the other two I was intrigued enough to research the author more in depth, trying to better understand what the meaning of her books is. I don't often listen to a book a second time but, in this case, I decided I wanted to. The author is a member of the Congregationalist Church of Christ in Iowa City and sometimes even preaches sermons. She is a thinker, an intellectual, and a deeply religious person. Her books are not typical books where there is an exciting ending, rather she is putting her beliefs on paper in the form of fiction. Her books are, in her way, a sermon on life. In this book, the protagonist, a preacher, marries a much younger woman at age 69 and fathers a child. At age 76 and with the end of his life in sight, his wife suggests he write down his life story, his history and beliefs, so that his son can one day better understand what kind of man his father was. This whole book, "Gilead", is that letter to his son. I suspect other books set in Gilead will be forthcoming some day.
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.
Gilead is definitely not for everyone. If you can get through it you will be satisfied as there is a slow beauty about it. The story is a letter written by an aging reverend John Ames to his 7 year old son. It is a memoir so well done and at times so ordinary I kept finding myself checking to see if this was based on someones real life. I'm not sure how this book made my to-read list. It won a Pulitzer in 2005 but is so thick in Calvinistic theology I'm wondering if Tim Challies recommended it. Although I wanted to put it down several times not understanding the point I kept at it. In the end Ames was working out his own belief in God, his resentment of Jack Boughton the adult son of his best friend and namesake, and winding down his life.
How could the delightful write of Housekeeping turn out a such a redundant, boring piece as this? I kept hoping something would happen, but finally gave up trying half way through.
Report Inappropriate Content