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Lila (Gilead #3)

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,785 Ratings  ·  2,587 Reviews
Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that w
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Popular Answered Questions

Rebecca Willis I just finished Lila, and loved it, but it is the only book of the trilogy I have read. I think it works just fine on its own!
Diane Warrington I have read all three of her other books. They are beautiful and part of their beauty is their deliberate slowness and development of internal lives…moreI have read all three of her other books. They are beautiful and part of their beauty is their deliberate slowness and development of internal lives of the characters. Housekeeping is a stand alone novel. Gilead and Home will set up the world of Lila. I can't wait to read it. Robinson is a superlative writer and has explored the world of faith but also the world of the pioneer on the edge of civilisation in the American West. Read it when you have time to savour it.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ron Charles
Oct 08, 2014 Ron Charles rated it it was amazing
In 2004, Marilynne Robinson, a legendary teacher at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, returned to novels after a 24-year hiatus and published “Gilead,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Critics Circle Award and a spot on best-of-the-year lists everywhere. It’s hard to imagine those accolades meant much to the Midwestern Calvinist, but four years later she published a companion novel called “Home,” which won the Orange Prize and more enthusiastic praise. And now comes “Lila,” already longlist ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Fionnuala added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
What would it be like to have limited vocabulary with which to phrase our thoughts? Would we then have limited thoughts? Or would our thoughts instead be clearer for the lack of words to muddy them?

Such are the questions that occur to us as we read this account of a homeless woman called Lila, a woman without a surname or knowledge of what country she lives in - except that it’s good country for growing crops - but who knows perfectly her place in the world nevertheless. A woman unaware of the e
Nov 19, 2014 Dem rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

This book is written with the most beautiful and elegant prose and for the first few few pages I really was enjoying the book but sadly the structure of the novel didn't work for me.

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church-the only available shelter from the rain-and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister and widower, John Ames, and begins a new existence while tryin
Diane S ☔
Oct 24, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something about the character Lila that I connected to in a big way. How she came to Gilead and married to a preacher is a story that is both poignant and life confirming. She is such a diverse character, wise yet naïve, suspicious yet giving, always thinking and searching for answers.

Reading about her young life, her life as a traveler, going wherever Doll, the woman who took her, needed to go in order to find work. Loved the character of Doll, the wise old woman who had such a tough l
Lynne King

This novel is written by a woman who is working at the height of her intellectual and literary powers. I do believe that she is unsurpassed in this novel and that this book, as already mentioned by a reviewer, will prove to be an American classic.

Apart from the excellent structure and the mesmerizing prose, religious and spiritual leitmotifs, such as grace, old man, the colour red, and the four elements permeate the text. The word "grace" in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, r
Violet wells
Mar 07, 2016 Violet wells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century
Rather like Gilead, I found this an uneven book. The first seventy or so pages are absolutely ravishing – beautiful writing, a compelling story and a real sense the author has embarked on a lucid visionary quest. However, then the story lost most of its drive and the theme became a little monosyllabic. Lila, the feral orphan child searching for identity and a sense of belonging, acquires her grace a little too easily, not surprising as throughout she’s surrounded by idealised characters. There’s ...more
Oct 19, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2014
Have you ever read a book that was so good it hurt? Marilynne Robinson knows how to touch deep places. Simply beautiful.

If you are new to her stories, I would recommend that you read Gilead and Home first. It deepens the appreciation for Lila.

The other day it occurred to me that reading Robinson's novels feels similar to reading Willa Cather. They both have a talent for saying important things in understated, familiar ways that make you really FEEL the truth of them. In this book, Lila herself
Rebecca Foster
As John Ames’s late-life second wife, Lila’s something of a background figure in Gilead; there are only hints at her rough upbringing and manners, as well as her slightly unorthodox spiritual thinking. Lila is a prequel, then; its present-day is the late 1940s, when Lila’s wanderings bring her to Gilead, Iowa and she falls into an altogether surprising romance with the elderly pastor. Yet it also stretches back to Lila’s semi-feral upbringing with Doll and the gang, and her brief sojourn in a St ...more
Diane Barnes
Jun 22, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-2015
This has to be one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever read, even though it would not be classified as such. A young woman battered by life, and an elderly minister beloved by his congregation, yet so lonely, only God and his prayers and old man Boughten next door to keep him company. They very inprobably find each other and get married and have a child, and along the way shyly and fearfully learn to trust each other. The story is told by Lila, since we heard John Ames story in "Gilead" ...more
Jan 15, 2015 Mandy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve tried and I’ve tried with Marilynne Robinson. I really have. Each time I pick up one of her books I optimistically feel a surge of hope that THIS time I will get it, THIS time I will understand what everyone else raves about, THIS time I will see the light. But no, yet again I am left bemused as to why she is such an acclaimed writer, and yet again I struggle to continue reading. So I won’t attempt a proper review of her latest novel, which is, like her others, being welcomed as another mas ...more
If you, like I, tend to be the type of reader who is usually drawn to novels filled with plenty of action and edge of your seat plot twists then you will find Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson's LILA to be a little slow. It falls into the category of more traditional themes and straight-forward storytelling with LILA sharing her innermost thoughts regarding everything from the events in her childhood and the early wanderings that brought her to Gilead, Iowa to her life as the wife of an e ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I just about hyperventilated when I found out Marilynne Robinson has a new novel coming out in October. It has been over five years since I read Home. I may have to re-read it to get myself warmed up for this new one.
Justin Evans
Nov 14, 2014 Justin Evans rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
By this point, I'm mainly interested in what Robinson is doing with form. I know what I'll get intellectually (and I like it), I know what I'll get in terms of character. This is my least favorite of the Gilead novels, but, dear reader, it might well be your favorite for the very same reasons I'm unmoved.

"Gilead" is a letter written by a well-read pastor; "Home" is a third person novel about more than usually intelligent people. "Lila" is a very close third person novel about a woman who, throu
Oct 21, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing
Lila Dahl is not a new character; those of us who have fallen under the spell of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy have encountered her before.

We’ve met up with her in Marilynne’s Robinson’s luminous first book, Gilead, which took the form of a sublime missive written by the aging minister John Ames, who marries the young, itinerant Lila in the winter of his years. In the second of the series, Home, the view changes to John Ames’ best friend, a fellow minister named Boughton, and we meet Lila
Angela M
Feb 27, 2015 Angela M rated it it was amazing
I read this in Nov , 2014 and somehow managed to delete my review . This is a reposting .

When I read a book like this I am reminded of why I choose to spend so much of my time reading . This book has characters that I want to know , a story that made my heart ache and yet lifted my spirit at the same time and writing that is just so good that I didn't want the last page to be the last page.

What struck me about Lila was the sadness , the loneliness , the lack of a sense of belonging and her inabi
In the beginning were the words, and the spirit of Jean Calvin hovered over them.

This is the same world but a completely different one to Gilead. It is a free standing novel, but plainly also part of a trinity, it is a religious novel full of allusion but doesn't require a prayerful reader who has a thorough going knowledge of chapter and verse. It is hard for me to think of it as other than a masterpiece, the apprentice has brought the evidence of their skill before the guild which cannot deny
I read Faulkner's "Light in August" a long time ago, in college, but something about "Lila" recalled it for me. When I looked for plot summaries and quotations from "Light in August" online in an effort to figure out why I was making that connection, I discovered that the feeling I recall having at the end was much more positive than the plot points and analysis suggest it should have been. It could be that Robinson's lovely writing, and new mother Lila's drifter state for much of her life, resu ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but since it was a finalist for the National Book Award, I would have been reading it anyway!

When I finally got around to reading Gilead, I was surprised by how much I liked it despite its very small world. Marilynne Robinson kept to that small world when she wrote Home, a story set in the same time with a parallel character. And this book does it again by telling the story of the wife of the minister from the first book. This one feels m
Nov 23, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On my 4th Robinson book she finally earned a 5 star rating from me. This is book 3 in a series and by far the best. I feel that each book could be stand alone, however this one shed some additional light on some of the previous characters. Specifically, I found that the Reverend finally felt human. I loved him in this book. I loved Lila's perspective. My GR friends kept telling me this series was a process, totally agree. Book 4?????? The son's point of view would bring it full circle.
Nov 10, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Lila walks into the town of Gilead and her downtrodden life begins to change. She meets John Ames and a mutual interest is sparked. A connection between them develops as he feels compassionate help is needed and she finds comfort in his presence.

Lila has a spiritual curiosity and a need to make sense of life. Her preference for solitude and mistrust of others begins to gradually weaken. Romance between Lila and John is gentle, hesitant and very touching. Both characters are reserved and they sho
Oct 04, 2014 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“She saw him standing in the parlor with his beautiful old head bowed down on his beautiful old chest……….Praying looks just like grief. Like shame. Like regret”
Lila is the fourth novel by prize-winning American author, Marilynne Robinson, and the third book in the Gilead series. Readers of the first book will recall that seventy-six year old Reverend John Ames was married to Lila, a woman thirty-five years his junior who had borne him a son seven years before. Just how that somewhat intriguing s
Nov 04, 2014 Diana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, marriage
I shouldn’t love Marilynne Robinson’s novels the way I do. She writes about things I don’t have much interest in: small Midwestern towns, Christianity. But Gilead, the first book in what is so far a trilogy, was a revelation. I had to stop several times to copy passages down, and I read a lot of the book out loud so I could taste it on my tongue. This is not my usual behavior when reading.

Robinson uses simple, specific language that also manages to be very sensual. Early in her new book, the tit
Aug 09, 2015 Maxwell marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2015
This book was a drag. I was such a huge fan of Gilead, the first book in this companion series. In fact, it's one of my favorite books of 2015 so far. But this one just did nothing for me. I read exzctly 50% of the book, and it was just quite boring. I understand the Gilead books are more about the characters and the atmosphere of the town, but I didn't see it to be nearly as compelling as the first book. Lila's backstory, while interesting, was very disjointed. The narrative jumps forward and ...more
Disappointed. If this books wins Man Booker Prize I will lose faith in humanity.
Dale Harcombe
Mar 05, 2015 Dale Harcombe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes when you love a book as I did Gilead, it is interesting to think how you will respond to another book featuring the same characters but from a different perspective. This book gives us the back story of Lila from the time she was snatched off the stoop by Doll, who saves her from a life of neglect. Not that life with Doll is easy either. They travel with others managing just to get by, sometimes by methods that not everyone would approve of. But hardship can make people do things other ...more
Claudia Putnam
If this isn't a candidate for the Great American Novel category, I don't know what is. To be clear, a Great American Novel is not simply an American novel that is good, but one that grapples with legacy, with American mythology, with the elements, with class, race, and social justice, among a few other topics that might be addressed, like generational conflict. This may seem to be a quiet novel about a not-so-young woman living in a small town, but in fact it's a painted on the kind of broad can ...more
Mary Cornelius
I think Home is still my favourite. But this one makes me feel alive in a different kind of way.
David Schaafsma
Lila is the third volume in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy. She published her first novel, Housekeeping, in 1979, published this in 2014, and so that is a four novel output in 35 years. She’s no Joyce Carol Oates, putting out a book a year! I am reminded of Joyce, responding to a question of how long a reader should spend deciphering Finnegan’s Wake, given it took 20 years for him to cipher it; Joyce replied, “That sounds about right, 20 years.” A great work of fiction should take a little ...more
Not a review just some thoughts.
Even thought everybody repeats that this is a novel that can be read as a stand alone, that it's not necessary to read Gilead, it definitely enriches readers experience when you read Gilead first.
I very much enjoyed seeing the story from two different perspectives, and how different and challenging they are. Revered as a voice of Gilead sees his wife very different and we all that have read Gilead started reading "Lila" with a set vision of her, that was build b
Jun 05, 2015 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite. Sublime. Captivating. In other words I loved it. Very gently the author portrays the life, heart and soul of its main character, Lila. She had a hard life as a drifter. Even though she did not have a permanent home, nice clothes, or even food many times, she was happy and had love. She found joy in sunshine, breezes, streams and with no concept of religion or laws, she was smart thinking through questions that puzzle mankind. She said, "The best things that happen I'd never have thoug ...more
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Her 1980 novel, Housekeeping, won a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for best first novel and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Her second novel, Gilead, was acclaimed by critics and received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the 2005 Ambassador Book Award.

Her third novel, Home, was published in 2008 and was nominated f
More about Marilynne Robinson...

Other Books in the Series

Gilead (3 books)
  • Gilead (Gilead, #1)
  • Home (Gilead, #2)

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“It felt very good to have him walking beside her. Good like rest and quiet, like something you could live without but you needed anyway. That you had to learn how to miss, and then you'd never stop missing it.” 20 likes
“You best keep to yourself, except you never can.” 11 likes
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