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Gilead | [Marilynne Robinson]

Gilead

In 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2005

National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2005

In 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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (734 )
5 star
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3.7 (248 )
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Story
4.0 (249 )
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Performance
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  •  
    William Scanlon Bronx, NY USA 01-02-15
    William Scanlon Bronx, NY USA 01-02-15 Member Since 2013

    chaplain

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    "I loved the whole series"

    It met my expectations and gave me much to think about. I don't know why it was from Audible kids.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-10-14
    Walter Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-10-14
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    5
    5
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    Story
    "Heartfelt narrative brings touching story to life"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Bustos 06-27-14
    D. Bustos 06-27-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A slow quite beauty about it."
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lina 08-14-12
    Lina 08-14-12 Member Since 2014
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    ".."
    If you could sum up Gilead in three words, what would they be?

    Nice story, good performance, but I think I would have enjoyed this book more by reading it, not listening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    07-07-09
    07-07-09 Member Since 2009
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    "I could not finish this book"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Weaver NJ United States 12-20-07
    S. Weaver NJ United States 12-20-07 Member Since 2014
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    "tedious"

    The Pulitzer Prize? Are they kidding? Seriously, it makes me wonder. I can see why some people would love it, but I found it very tedious, in spite of some lovely language and interesting meditations on Christian theology. Aside from the narrator, all of the characters are flat, uni-dimensional. There is a constant self-conscious sensitivity and romance in the writing, and yet it never comes to life. Indeed the whole world, as portrayed in the novel, is as flat as the prairie it is set upon.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frances miami, FL, USA 11-02-05
    Frances miami, FL, USA 11-02-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "omg! terrible!!"

    I'm sorry, maybe i'm too young (28!) to understand it all... or something! Since i paid for the story i made myself sit through it, actually hoping something exciting would happen, a twist, a joke, something interesting!! Nothing ever did, and after listening to the whole story i regret wasting my time. The reader was great tho and he fit the role perfectly. I can recommend this story to senior citizens, who might like to reminisce of old times.. If you are 40 and younger, don?t waste your precious time! (I actually learned that from the story! haha)

    6 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 05-21-05
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 05-21-05 Member Since 2008

    Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gilead Fails to Reach the Heights"

    Marilynne Robinson is an exquisite writer but her story is dull. It is told as a preacher writing a letter to his young son. In the letter he recounts the history of the family. There is no variation in the narration and after listening to two discs, I forwarded to exerpts of a few others including the end; nothing changed. It gets one star and that only for the language.

    16 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Corrales, NM, United States 06-29-05
    Mark Corrales, NM, United States 06-29-05 Member Since 2014
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    "snoozer"

    I can't believe how dull and boring this story is. It's as though the author set out to be deliberately boring. I really tried to get into this one but it just never picked up, and finally I just shut it off and cut my losses. Little mundane details of this preacher and his father's life will bore you to tears. Avoid at all costs.

    10 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Sacramento, CA, USA 03-21-06
    Robin Sacramento, CA, USA 03-21-06
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    "Prize winner bombs"

    I selected this book because it was the nat'l book award winner. I found the book well written but the story line is not compelling. The premise is a long, rambling narrative written by an older man to his very young child to read with the child is grown. Its just okay, not great.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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