Book - 2004
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As the Reverend John Ames approaches the hour of his own death, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.
Publisher: Toronto, ON : HarperCollins, 2004
ISBN: 9780002005883
Branch Call Number: FIC ROB
Characteristics: 247 p. ; 22 cm


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STPL_JessH Sep 13, 2019

I love this book. I was moved to tears many times. I felt as though I was inside an extended prayer with all the contradictions and reckoning that comes with devotion and steadfast faith. Just a beautiful book.

Aug 08, 2019

A thoughtful story that is beautifully written. It is a deeply moving portrayal of a good man who happens to be a Christian.

IndyPL_SteveB Jul 14, 2019

If you ever see a booklist on the subject of “the experience of being a human” and the list does NOT include *Gilead*, don’t trust the list. This is one of the absolute best American novels and should be a long-term classic. Marilynne Robinson is sometimes listed as one of the great American writers, and this book is graceful and inspired evidence of that.

John Ames, a 76-year old Congregationalist preacher in the small Iowa town of Gilead, has heart disease. He is still preaching and doing everything he can to help his church members; but he knows he doesn’t have too many months left to live. He begins to write a series of letters to his son to explain his family’s “begats”; but it turns into a self-examination of what John appreciates and regrets about his life.

We soon understand that John’s son is only 10 years old and John has had a complicated life. He seems to be thinking that he is going to write about death and history. But he can’t keep that up long; because he is more interested in the life around him.

Since the narrator is a committed Christian, the story is deeply immersed in that viewpoint. But interestingly, the book is not really “Christian” fiction; i.e., the author is not writing this book to convert anyone to Christianity. The book shows life viewed through the eyes of a narrator who happens to be a Christian, with all of the failings and virtues of many good people. I think anyone who values seeing the world through different eyes, whether a Christian or not, would get equal value from this novel.

The writing is deep, thoughtful, and beautiful. It’s a short novel but not something I could read rapidly. Every few paragraphs, I drifted off on memories of my own, as the writer stimulated parts of my brain that had been stored away.

Jun 23, 2019

This Gilead, Home, actually stands as the 1st book of Marilynne Robinson's 3 title Gilead series.
Book 1, title of Gilead, pub yr 2004: book 2 of title Home, yr 2008, and Lila, book 3, yr 2014.

Her novel, Gilead, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction Best Book in year 2005.

I had not read the first and second book in the series when I read Lila.

Robinson teaches at the famous University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has also published 9 theme based nonfiction titles.
Robinson has either been nominated for, or won, eleven recognitions by highly acclaimed prize granting organization, for her writing, thru yr 2016.

Please consider reading at least one of Robinson's novels.

Feb 22, 2019

No copies available at this time (2-22-19)

JCLMandaW Dec 14, 2018

I wanted to like it, I really did.

RogerDeBlanck Jul 24, 2018

Gilead chronicles the life of John Ames, a seventy year-old preacher, dying of heart disease. The novel takes place in the small town of Gilead, Iowa, and the narrative is written from Ames’s perspective as he undertakes an extended letter to his seven year-old son. The contents of the letters take on the nature of self-revelatory prayers from the deeply religious Ames, whose voice conveys more than remembrances, reflections, and advice. His ideas also begin to reveal a developing story focused on Ames’s concerns and suspicions about his namesake, his best friend’s son, named John Jack Boughton. Jack clings to a secret of tremendous moral proportions. In addition, the novel examines three generations of ministers in the Ames’s family. But the resonant power of the book plays out in the beauty of Robinson’s language. Her passages brim with intense spiritual intuitiveness and immense wisdom. Gilead is a towering achievement of modern literature. It is the type of book destined to be a classic.

May 26, 2018

A deeply empathetic masterpiece that presents deep devotion encountering vulnerability and uncertainty.

Mar 30, 2018

What happened to the 'amazing prose' she was able to write for Housekeeping?

Sep 05, 2016

Yes, yes, and yes again. A lovely book constructed with care and beauty. Gives hope to the world that a writer produces a book such as this.

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Apr 09, 2014

sandra_src thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Feb 21, 2011

an intimate tale of three generations, from the Civil War to the 20th century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart


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