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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 (607 )
5 star
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Overall
3.7 (138 )
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Story
3.9 (139 )
5 star
 (60)
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Frances miami, FL, USA 11-02-05
    Frances miami, FL, USA 11-02-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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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
  •  
    Mark Corrales, NM, United States 06-29-05
    Mark Corrales, NM, United States 06-29-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    19
    15
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    Overall
    "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 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Sacramento, CA, USA 03-21-06
    Robin Sacramento, CA, USA 03-21-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    219
    3
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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
  •  
    Joanne Eugene, OR, USA 01-30-06
    Joanne Eugene, OR, USA 01-30-06 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    4
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    Overall
    "Gilead"

    The narrator of this story has a wonderful voice and matches the main character quite well.
    The story seems loooongggg and drawn out. In fact I never did find a plot to it. There's lots of old memories from the preacher about his father the preacher and his father the other preacher. (Punctuation left out on purpose) I found that I lost track of which "father" was being talked about.
    If you have a belief in god, you might like this book for the philosophical nuggets, if you can pick them out of the rest of the mush.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami Waldo, WI, United States 01-23-12
    Jami Waldo, WI, United States 01-23-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Needed this book for school"
    Would you listen to Gilead again? Why?

    Although this was


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The grandfather, a minister who was also violently active in the Civil War, made for an interesting character.


    Which character – as performed by Tim Jerome – was your favorite?

    The book was written entirely from a first-person perspective.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, but I was grateful for its company during long car rides.


    Any additional comments?

    The Kindle-car stereo interface is ideal for me, and made my time with this book much easier to fit in.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne San Francisco, CA, United States 08-20-10
    Anne San Francisco, CA, United States 08-20-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    "Not engaging"

    Maybe it's better if one reads it, but the listen was so dull my mind wandered constantly while trying to listen. I gave up.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale Palmer Lake, CO, USA 09-24-09
    Dale Palmer Lake, CO, USA 09-24-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    18
    4
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    Overall
    "Well written, but a little disjointed"

    The first part was a narration about family, the second about dealing with the quasi-antigonist. The plot device of an elderly father writing a letter to his young child before his death didn't really carry the second part very well.
    In spite of that - I enjoyed the story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Sunderland, ON, Canada 06-22-06
    Neil Sunderland, ON, Canada 06-22-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    "Lovely and thought provoking"

    Good stuff, beautifully read. Skip this one if you like car chases and the like. This is a slow burn, but it has wonderful moments.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 06-06-05
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 06-06-05 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    64
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    Overall
    "Well written but dull"

    The use of language is strong, and the book is low key. The problem is that it is so low key it is often dull. At certain points it is an old man rambling on and on.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alejandra Spring Hill, KS, United States 01-02-09
    Alejandra Spring Hill, KS, United States 01-02-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    101
    14
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    Overall
    "Terribly boring!"

    I don't see what the fuss is all about... the book is boring, long and the characters are not engaging at all.

    0 of 5 people found this review helpful
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