Noralil Fores's Reviews > Gilead

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
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's review
Jun 21, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: Folks Interested in Religion & Redemption
Read in June, 2007

Craddled within the world of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, there's a quiet yearning, a desire inherently expressed within the novel's structure to slow down, to walk lightly, to observe without participation. In its reflections on religion and moral goodness, its story is undemanding, thoughtful and filled with a sense a peace, the kind found only when spiritual worries fade to divine acceptance.

Through the eyes John Ames, a Methodist preacher coming to terms with his immenient death, the landscape of Gilead, Iowa is painted as one provincial, its hope held on my a thread, its purpose increasingly depleted and rendered irrelevant with its failures to garner true redemption. Structured as a letter written to Ames' young son, a "begat" of sorts Robinson writes, the story weaves into the worlds Ames has neglected: those about his atheist brother, his wanton godson, his eccentric, abolitionist grandfather. The retelling of their stories runs circular, almost a bit repetitive, in a pattern of confession, deviation and then return to confession. Yet, the patterning is not obvious in the read, nor is it distracting. In fact, it's often welcome, as if for a few seconds the reader follows the narrator's stream of consciousness in true thinking, of the connectivity and spontaneity of thoughts' juxtapositions.

Quietly though not forcefully, the book lays it's hands on the reader, studying universal ideas about God and humanity. Yet, it's a book so tame in its manner that it's a bit forgettable, its images etheral, like its religious content, a mystery to memory.

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