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Lila

(Gilead #3)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  25,256 ratings  ·  3,666 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 t
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Hardcover, 261 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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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)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  25,256 ratings  ·  3,666 reviews


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Ron Charles
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
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
It's 4:30am... I lost a lot of sleep-but just finished the last of this series--a life transforming experience.
What to say about Lila? A wild child? Perhaps --but unfortunately-and fortunately I think there are many 'Lila's' in this world. I related to her in many ways myself.

The writing once again blew me away - especially fit the emotional key of perfect pitch for me on several occasions.
This one small sentence alone is one that brought me to real tears:
"Fear and comfort c
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Candi
"Doll may have been the loneliest woman in the world, and she was the loneliest child, and there they were, the two of them together, keeping each other warm in the rain."

Lila understands what it means to be lonely. She knows what it means to connect with another human soul to overcome that utter loneliness. Lila takes us on her journey and it is one of beauty and understanding and developing faith, not just in God but in the human spirit itself. Despite hardship and neglect, can a person tru
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Fionnuala
Sep 02, 2015 added it
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 unaw
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Michael Finocchiaro
This is my third read of Marilynne Robinson and as always a wonderful one. I inadvertently skipped the 2nd volume of the Gilead trilogy (I'll read Home soon) because the American Library had Lola on the shelf. Sort of a deep dive into the Reverend Ames' wife introduced in Gilead, Lila's story is one of profound pain and suffering and, thankfully, redemption. The book takes place as she becomes pregnant with the Reverend's child as she looks back in a sort of stream of conscience on her life and ...more
Dolors
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Contemplative readers
Shelves: read-in-2018, dost
The last book in the Gilead trilogy, and the most unconventional because of the choosing of an outcast as a protagonist. Lila is an orphan, hard-edged, uneducated, a creature that survived the rough conditions of her first years against all odds. Shielded by Doll, the enigmatic woman who saved her life as a baby, Lila pushes through in Dickensian conditions; hunger, loneliness and all kind of picaresque penuries paint her unusual story reminding the reader of the most celebrated works by Steinbe ...more
Dem
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
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Diane S ☔
Sep 23, 2013 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 su
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Violet wells
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Angela M
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sara
Some works of fiction are wonderful. They make us laugh, cry, sing. We love their style, their plot, their characters. But, occasionally, a work of fiction steps beyond that and becomes important. It tells us something; something we know but cannot express. It informs us about the human condition, the human spirit, the things that make existence, life itself, worthwhile and meaningful. This is one of those novels. It is one of three, which taken in their totality, are the stuff that true endurin ...more
Mandy
Jan 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
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, r
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Jan-Maat
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
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Cathrine ☯️
3★
My fourth Marilynne Robinson book, and though I’m a fan, my least favorite in the Gilead series. Halfway through I stop and read some lovely reviews that do it the justice it no doubt deserves and make me feel like a completely inadequate reader not up to the task of appreciation. I feel detached and somewhat bored at points. The structure bothers me. No chapters, just pages that keep going with past events against the current ones in protagonist Lila’s story. I feel the need to stop and pond
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Jennifer
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 is reading the
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Roger Brunyate
Gilead, Home, and the Undertow of Transience

So Marilynne Robinson returns once more to the small Iowa town immortalized in her Pulitzer Prizewinning novel Gilead; is there really enough material there for three books? When Home, the second novel, came out, my answer was almost but not quite. Now with Lila, I have no doubt. This is every bit as rich and self-contained a book as either of its predecessors, a deeply moving meditation on life, love, and God. It is the simplest of the three novels, and the earliest in
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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 James Joyce, though, thinking of that slow writing pace. 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, replied, “That sounds about right, 20 ye ...more
Diane Barnes
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: motley-crew
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
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 much more s
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Rebecca
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. Louis who ...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.
Sandie
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
Jill
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 w
...more
Dale Harcombe
May 16, 2014 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
Justin Evans
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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Katie
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lila is rescued from a workhouse when she is five by a woman named Doll. Doll, perhaps owing much to Toni Morrison’s creations, is an eloquent illiterate women, mistrustful of the world at large. The first fascinating question this novel asks is, how does language without formal learning give clarity to experience? Robinson does a masterful job of creating a kind of secret language between the two females. Lila’s real challenge though is to overcome the hard crusted mistrust of intimacy bred int ...more
Terzah
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
Laura
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Karen
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really loved so much of this book... the dialogue... (spoken and unspoken) between the Rev. John Ames and Lila.... a sweet, heartfelt book of their story...I now of course must read Gilead...
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Great American Re...: * October 2019 - Lila - Marilynne Robinson (Gilead series, book 3) 3 7 Oct 14, 2019 03:32PM  
Currently reading: Lila 2 17 Jan 12, 2018 10:14PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please link editions and add cover 2 14 Dec 28, 2016 04:48PM  
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Capitol Hill Reads!: Upcoming books, Autumn 2016 1 5 Aug 18, 2016 05:30PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Gilead (3 books)
  • Gilead (Gilead, #1)
  • Home (Gilead, #2)
“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.” 35 likes
“This is not to say that joy is a compensation for loss, but that each of them, joy and loss, exists in its own right and must be recognised for what it is... So joy can be joy and sorrow can be sorrow, with neither of them casting either light or shadow on the other.” 23 likes
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