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Jack

(Gilead #4)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,693 ratings  ·  1,239 reviews
Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the latest in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction.

Jack  tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the beloved, erratic, and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa. In segregated St. Louis sometime after
...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published September 29th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Josephine Briggs Jack is Jack and will never change. He is intelligent, loves poetry as does Della. Della probably thinks because she is a good woman, her love will tu…moreJack is Jack and will never change. He is intelligent, loves poetry as does Della. Della probably thinks because she is a good woman, her love will turn him into a good, hard working man. Too many women have thought that to their despair. (less)
Antenna Having read all the three previous books, and most recently reread Home, I would say that it is definitely beneficial to have read Home first, because…moreHaving read all the three previous books, and most recently reread Home, I would say that it is definitely beneficial to have read Home first, because one understands more of the allusions and Jack's early life. I admit that Home will tell you more about "what comes later", but I think I would have found some parts of Jack hard to follow without more background knowledge.(less)

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 ·  5,693 ratings  ·  1,239 reviews


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Angela M
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve read in a very long time.

“After years of days that were suffered and forgotten, no more memorable than any particular stone in his shoe, here, in a cemetery, in the middle of the night, he was caught off guard by the actual turn of events, something that mattered, a meeting that would empty his best thoughts of their pleasure . “

Jack Boughton, son of a minister, gone from his home in Gilead, Iowa, now in St. Louis, recently out of prison, for
...more
Dolors
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The good, the bad, the pensive
Reading “Jack” has been both pleasure and pain for this reader.
To begin with, the novel has made me realize that I wasn’t truly prepared to immerse myself into such an intense journey as the Gilead trilogy when I tackled it a couple of years ago.
I certainly liked the gracious writing back then, the dense, almost oppressive rhythm of the narration and the theological pondering that pulsated underneath the breath of each character, but I failed to grasp the vast understanding this writer possesse
...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it....
.....I loved the pure beauty of the gracefully written words....the feelings they stimulated in me.
Each sentence seemed to be fierce and affecting.
Spiritual, morally and emotionally complex ‘novels’ are exceptionally rare....
Marilynne Robinson is ‘exceptionally’ rare....
Her entire body-of-work is quietly powerful.

Reading, *Jack* [an affecting novel during the 1950’s], came at a perfect time...absolutely perfect! With all the racial upheaval happening in 2020...
and many American’s
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Debbie
Well, this was a bust.

I tried, I really did, but it was off with its head at the halfway mark. It had all the good stuff—it’s well written and an excellent character study, with plenty of psychological insight. No waxing poetic about tree stumps and caterpillars, yay! And the main character is self-effacing, always a draw for me. The only interesting part is that it’s a love story between a white man (bum) and a black woman (teacher), and this takes place in the Midwest in the 1950s, where prej
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Diane S ☔
Sep 10, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5. When one opens this book one expects , because after all this is Marilynne Robinson, some pretty fantastic prose. This is what I found, the writing was beautiful. So why then did this not appeal to me as much as Gilead or even Lila? Can I bake it in Covid? Possibly, but this is a very introspective novel, and as such it was, for the most part, one sided. Jack's story and his thoughts, fears about his relationship with Della, rather repetitive as he goes back and forth, again and again. This ...more
Fionnuala
Jack is a perfect companion volume to Marilynne Robinson's last novel, Lila. Both novels focus on a character who lives on the margins, and both trace the growth of a truly beautiful relationship between the marginal figure and a very conventional figure.

Having said that, these two books could also be considered as opposites. The two marginal main characters differ greatly, the most telling difference being their ability to put their thoughts into words. Orphaned Lila grew to adulthood without
...more
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Published today 29/09/20

It is odd, what families do to their children—Faith, Hope, Grace, Glory, the names of his good, plain sisters like an ascending scale of spiritual attainment, a veritable anthem, culminating in, as they said sometimes, the least of these, Glory, who fretted at her own childishness, the hand-me-down, tag-along existence of the eighth of eight children. He himself, who aspired to harmlessness, was named for a man who was named for a man remembered, if he was, for antique
...more
Diane Barnes
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
A beautiful love story between a disreputable white man who in his own words is a bum, and a black woman who is a highly educated high school English teacher. This was St. Louis in the 50's, so even though not the deep south, still an illegal relationship.
Maybe it was me, maybe it's the times we find ourselves in right now, but I could not enjoy it or find value in the story at all. It was told from Jack's point of view, and his head was not a pleasant place to be. Frankly, I found it oppressive
...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written introspective on two people who are lonely, hurt, and find one another and share their beliefs and love. It's a keen look at John Ames Boughton, the son of a Presbyterian minister, and Della Miles, an African American, daughter of a preacher. Taking place in Gilead, the well. known place of the books that precede this one, we find a beautiful love story, one that transcends time and the unrest and discrimination of the South.

Jack is ever so troubled, seeing himself as less
...more
Cheri

Jack Boughton is the son of Gilead, Iowa’s Minister Boughton, named after John Ames, the preacher and narrator of Robinson’s Gilead. This fourth in Robinson’s connected volumes is his story, revealing much about Jack, and the woman he meets, and falls in love with. Della Miles – a teacher who is the daughter of an important black family in Memphis.

Jack is viewed by others as a good-for-nothing bum, indeed, he views himself a less-than. He is a man who has been to prison, a draft dodger during W
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
I truly adored this latest volume in Robinson's Gilead series. The characters of Jack and Della are endearing and the writing, as always, is splendid. What a masterpiece: it is probably my favorite of the four books so far. I would even say that I wouldn't see a problem giving her a second Pulitzer for this wonderful love story.

I loved the rich dialogs between Jack and Della.
She said, "Something happened that made you decide you'd had all the life you could stand. So you ended it there. Except
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Friday, the 2021 Tournament of Books Long list came out, and I had a healthy number of books from it already on hand that I hadn't read yet. So I picked up this book, which I had from the publisher through Edelweiss but was a bit delayed in reading.

This book fits in with all the Gilead novels, which tell pieces of the same story from different perspectives. I was surprised when Lila came out and definitely didn't expect another one after that. Since a lot of people ask, you can read this as a st
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Barbara
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Marilynne Robinson’s “Jack” is her fourth installment of the Ames/Boughton family saga. True to her literary prowess this is a beautifully written novel that brings the reader into an American cultural era, in this story, post WWII and the Jim Crow time. Reading “Jack” requires full attention to detail, to every long sentence.

“Gilead” is still my favorite in the saga. I continue to find that novel to be one of the most memorable to me. If one is to read any of her novels, “Gilead” is the one to
...more
Michael
A delightfully slow love story set in St. Louis sometime in the post-war 40s or early 50s. You root for it to work out, but worry that it won’t given that the man is white and the woman black at a time when even cohabitation is illegal in Missouri and many other states. The beauty is in how the tale is told and Robison’s skill in character development and engaging a reader’s fascination with the unfolding relationship and its fate.

In tone and setting, this novel is very much in keeping with he
...more
Kathleen
Dec 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Most of all, this is a love story. There is Jack, whom readers were introduced to in Robinson’s previous books set in the small town of Gilead, Iowa (“Gilead”, “Home” and “Lila”). He is the atheist son of a minister and has gravitated to a semi-homeless state of existence. He has a problem with alcohol, habitually pilfers, and has spent time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit (but certainly could have). He also has a gentle soul, spending hours in the poetry section of the library and enjoys ...more
Barbara
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Coming out of my cage no-reviews for 2020 silence to say that I want this to be shot straight into my veins.

Edit: I am going to leave the original "review" up because it still encapsulates succinctly how I feel about Robinson's writing. Now, on to the actual review.

Jack's story was always going to be about grace and predestination. If I had to encapsulate Jack it would be using a quote from Gilead:
Love is holy because it is like grace--the worthiness of its object is never really what matters.
...more
Paul Fulcher
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, 2020
Marilynne Robinson's Gilead was my novel of the year in 2015 when I came to it, and the other volumes of the trilogy, Home and Lila, rather belatedly on the publication of the last of the three, particularly notable for its reverent and sympathetic, but at the same time theologically questioning exploration of religious faith, a rare thing indeed in modern literature.

The three novels were (as Rachel Sykes observes in this article http://ijas.iaas.ie/issue-6-rachel-sy...) more "simultaneous texts
...more
Krista
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020, arc
I’m a gifted thief. I lie fluently, often for no reason. I’m a bad but confirmed drunk. I have no talent for friendship. What talents I do have I make no use of. I am aware instantly and almost obsessively of anything fragile, with the thought that I must and will break it. This has been true of me my whole life. I isolate myself as a way of limiting the harm I can do. And here I am with a wife! Of whom I know more good than you have any hint of, to whom I could do a thousand kinds of harm, n
...more
Kenny McCool
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So wonderful.
Dave Schaafsma
Jack is the fourth in a series of books featuring members of a couple families from Gilead, Iowa, written by Marilynne Robinson, and in part because I have already read and reviewed Giliead, Lila, and Home, Jack is my favorite read of the year, yet another masterpiece by the author one of the world’s greatest authors. Jack is the tale of an (illegal) interracial relationship that takes place in the forties mostly in St. Louis between older white guy Jack, a self-described bum (though a very well ...more
Hugh
Sep 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2021
The fourth part of Robinson's Gilead series returns to one of the main protagonists of the second part Home, and fills in the back story of Jack (John Ames) Boughton, the prodigal son whose return to Gilead drives that book, which was the first part I read and is still my favourite, perhaps because it displays the most sympathy for the non-religious.

Most of the book takes place several years earlier in St Louis, Missouri, and the story describes Jack's lifestyle there and how he became involved
...more
Dan
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marilynne Robinson is among a handful of my favorite contemporary novelists. Based on her initial four novels, I think of Robinson as Nobel Prize worthy. Jack, Robinson’s latest, is her fifth novel and the fourth of her Gilead series, in which she has created a seemingly simple but emotionally rich world with a small cast of memorable characters searching to understand themselves, each other, their lives, and their relationship to their faiths. I’ve admired and appreciated Robinson for her caref ...more
Joseph
When I read Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead” some years back, I felt it was one of the best books I had come across in a long time. Set in in 1950s Iowa, it consists of a long letter from a dying 76-year old Congregationalist minister John Ames to his little son, the unexpected blessing of his old age. As Ames sifts through his memories, the story of his family (particularly his preacher father and grandfather) and the community which they served starts to take shape. Old pains and preoccupations r ...more
J.C.
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie
”.

The Embankment by T E Hulme
(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.)


So, here, at last, is Jack, referred to in the previous book, “Lila”, only as “except the one”; the one who is defined by being different from his family. Lik
...more
Gretchen Rubin
I admire Marilynne Robinson more than just about any other novelist writing today. This novel is the fourth in her Gilead quartet. The title character Jack is a fascinating puzzle.
Jill
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading the fourth and final novel in Marilynne Robinson’s brilliant and luminous Gilead series reminds me of traveling home to a beloved place. The first time you visit is very special: you can’t even imagine any experience ever surpassing it. But then each time you go back, you see it from another perspective; even though the emotions change, the enduring love does not.

Those of us who have had the privilege of reading the other books know Jack, if only peripherally. He is the son of a preacher
...more
SueLucie
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I would rate all three of the previous books in this series amongst my all-time favourites so it was a privilege to be able to read this one early. Even though years have gone by since I read the earlier ones I thought I could remember them quite well. I was intrigued to read how Jack’s life had gone during his ‘wilderness’ years and how he came to meet Della, but was itching to hear about the rest of the family. This is Jack’s story, though, and he is estranged from them so not to be. I found t ...more
Ron Charles
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Can love save a man from perdition?

That question, braided with romance and religion, is at the heart of Marilynne Robinson’s new novel, “Jack.”

Since 2004 when she published “Gilead,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, Robinson has been exploring the lives of two families led by Protestant ministers in a fictional Iowa town. These thoughtful novels are not sequels in the traditional sense, but they’re part of the same chord; they depend upon one another for tone and resonance. “Jack,” the fourth Gilead
...more
Sharon Hart-Green
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Jack is a worthy successor to Marilynne Robinson's prize-winning novel Gilead. Although she wrote several novels in between, this novel has the same psychological power characteristic of her earlier work. It is particularly effective in exploring the subject of human frailty and the possibility of overcoming errors in one's past. ...more
Dale Harcombe
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit to being a huge fan of Marilynne Robinson’s writing and was so looking forward to reading this story of John Ames Boughton, known mostly as Jack. Jack is the prodigal son. Jack falls in love with Della. Both of them children of minsters and so have a good biblical background. They know their love is going to be frowned on by society. This is not long after World War 2 and America is not ready for interracial marriages. Because of their differences in colour many are adamant they should n ...more
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Marilynne Summers Robinson (born November 26, 1943) is an American novelist and essayist. Across her writing career, Robinson has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005, National Humanities Medal in 2012, and the 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. In 2016, Robinson was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people.[2] Robinson be ...more

Other books in the series

Gilead (4 books)
  • Gilead
  • Home
  • Lila

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The beauty of a paperback novel is multidimensional. Allow me to explain: The format allows you to catch up on some of 2020's biggest books...
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“I think most people feel a difference between their real lives and the lives they have in the world. But they ignore their souls, or hide them, so they can keep things together, keep an ordinary life together. You don’t do that. In your own way, you’re kind of—pure.” 5 likes
“...feeling that old thrill of dread and compulsion, he knew circumstances had once again put him too close to a fragile thing. He said, "Look at the life we live, Della. I have to sneak over here in the dark just to steal a few words with you. Is that language, or is it noise?"

She said, "It's noise that you have to do it, and language that you do it, anyway." She said softly, "Maybe poetry.”
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