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Gilead
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Readalongs > Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Kristen, Greg, Alannah, Leanne, Susan)

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Greg | 7684 comments Mod
We will be reading Gilead in the second half of July. Anyone is welcome to join us!


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12185 comments Mod
Can't wait to get started.


Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "Can't wait to get started."

Me too Allanah!


Shirley | 4177 comments Such a wonderful book, I hope you enjoy it!!


Leanne (littlebunnylibrary) Ooh I'd love to join in please! Do you have a specific start date? I might try and start early as I'm a slow reader!


Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Thanks Shirley, and yes, you're very welcome to join Leanne!

What does everyone think about a start date of Monday July 18th? Would that be a good start date for everyone?


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12185 comments Mod
That's a great date for me.


Leanne (littlebunnylibrary) Suits me :)


message 9: by Greg (last edited Jul 07, 2016 06:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Let's plan on starting July 18th then, unless Kristen has a problem. Looking forward to it! :)


message 10: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan | 10 comments I've needed a reason to start this - it's languished on my bookshelf for some reason (too big of a stack!) I've heard it's amazing.


message 11: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I've needed a reason to start this - it's languished on my bookshelf for some reason (too big of a stack!) I've heard it's amazing."

Are you going to join us Susan? The more the merrier! :)


message 12: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan | 10 comments Definitely! July 18th gives me a start date:) I have so many friends who love love love Marilynne Robinson.


Kristen | 52 comments The 18th is great and I'm really looking forward to it.


message 14: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Me too Kristen! :) And Susan, I added you!


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12185 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I've needed a reason to start this - it's languished on my bookshelf for some reason (too big of a stack!) I've heard it's amazing."

Same here Susan. I have been wanting to read it for months.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12185 comments Mod
Started this today.


message 17: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan | 10 comments Also started today!


message 18: by Greg (last edited Jul 19, 2016 12:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
I'm at about page 60.

I just love it so far, partly because I love the protagonist ... his forthrightness, his humility, his simple kindness. Also because of the wealth of small character details that are so perfect, from the expression on his boy's face as he tries to fix the broken crayon to the eccentric one eyed grandfather, his poor wife reduced to hiding coins in the sugar. Such depth to this quiet story!

But most of all I love the writing itself (which feels like a natural outgrowth of the protagonist's personality).

This passage for instance is just lovely:

"A great part of my life has been listening to people, in that particular intense privacy ... When people speak to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the 'I' whose predicate can be 'love' or 'fear' or 'want,' and whose object can be 'someone' or 'nothing' and it won't really matter, because the loveliness is just that presence, shaped like a flame on a wick, emanating itself in grief and guilt and joy and whatever else."

I just love that!

Another part that really struck me was when he talked about the "weight of light" like a cat in his lap.

Anyway, there was one thing that confused me, but I finally figured it out. Perhaps no one else missed it, but Rebecca is (p. 20)(view spoiler).

And I still have no idea of the reference to Mirabelle Mercer on my page 43 when he's talking about WWI and the cholera epidemic. I think it must be someone famous, but I have no idea. Anyone know? This reference really has me stumped!

I think John Brown in reference to the grandfather's story on my page 47 must be this famous/infamous abolitionist John Brown as he does have a Kansas connection. I only know of him because of the epic poem John Brown's Body. And perhaps Jim Lane is this general who also has a Kansas connection? The Wikipedia entry about general Lane also talks about "Jayhawkers," a word that originally puzzled me on page 50.


message 19: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy | 422 comments This is one of my favorite books. I may re-read it and join you. Then can we read the sequel?


message 20: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Katy wrote: "This is one of my favorite books. I may re-read it and join you. Then can we read the sequel?"

I definitely want to read the sequel Katy; so that sounds like a good plan! I'm loving Gilead so far!


Leslie | 15985 comments I might join in reading the sequel, depending on when you get to it.


message 22: by LauraT (new) - added it

LauraT (laurata) | 13531 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "I might join in reading the sequel, depending on when you get to it."

Me too!


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12185 comments Mod
I will join in for the sequel as well, I'm really enjoying Gilead at the minute.


Kristen | 52 comments I will be starting it this afternoon. Just back to work after a vacation overseas so I've been busy and distracted...but all the wonderful comments above are prompting me to get going!


message 25: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Kristen wrote: "I will be starting it this afternoon. Just back to work after a vacation overseas so I've been busy and distracted...but all the wonderful comments above are prompting me to get going!"

Great Kristen, and that sounds fun with the vacation overseas. Hope you had a great time on your trip! :)


Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments This is one of my all time favourites. I do not have the copy with me presently. Otherwise, I would have joined in the discussions. This is one of the novels wherein you pause at every sentence and reflect. All the more advantageous for the one who is religiously oriented. Looking forward to your musings.


message 27: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Dhanaraj wrote: "This is one of my all time favourites. I do not have the copy with me presently. Otherwise, I would have joined in the discussions. This is one of the novels wherein you pause at every sentence and..."

I'm absolutely loving it Dhanaraj!


Shirley | 4177 comments Greg wrote: "Dhanaraj wrote: "This is one of my all time favourites. I do not have the copy with me presently. Otherwise, I would have joined in the discussions. This is one of the novels wherein you pause at e..."

Glad you're enjoying it, Greg. I found it both profound and beautiful, and there aren't many around that I would describe in that way, or at least not that I've read recently.


message 29: by Greg (last edited Jul 20, 2016 11:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
I'm up to page 140 now. How is everyone else doing? I'm going to slow myself down with other books so some of you can hopefully catch up. There's so much to discuss in this book!

I'm still very curious about the reference to Mirabelle Mercer on page 43 when he's talking about WWI and the cholera epidemic. Dhanaraj or anyone else, does anyone know who Mirabelle Mercer is?

A few more thoughts:

I love all the quiet, gentle wisdom in this book. For instance, the part on page 112 about visions that only come in retrospect strikes me as absolutely true in my life. "Sometimes the visionary aspect of any particular day comes to you in the memory of it, or it opens to you over time. For example, whenever I take a child into my arms to be baptized, I am ... comprehended in the experience more fully, having seen more of life, knowing better what it means to affirm the sacredness of the human creature. I believe there are visions that come to us only in memory, in retrospect." That's been true in my life as he says, events of great significance that have almost the character of a vision though I didn't understand them until years afterwards.

Also, I'm so drawn to the tenderness of this vision of the narrator's - the "sacredness of the human creature" (p. 112) he sees that actually bears out in his kindness toward other people. His eye is so much more inclined to bless than to judge! Even the rascally young fellows smoking against the garage wall "seemed beautiful" to him, an "amazing thing" (p. 5). He says, "there's "nothing more astonishing than a human face" (p. 66).

I feel a bit blessed just to exist behind his eyes for a few hours of reading. It touches me deeply, the sincerity of this man who feels a real reverence and wonder for the Mystery of life! He has such a sense for the sacred, as when he sees his wife and son playing in the sprinkler, "dancing around in your iridescent little downpour, whooping and stomping as sane people ought to do when they encounter something as miraculous as water" (p. 63). Ah, I love that!!

I love also all the understated humor throughout the book. It's not a ha ha humor but a humor deeply rooted in the human condition, the weird ways people behave in all their petty prejudices & imperfections. For instance, when the neighbor disapproves of the narrator's son's (fairly innocent) language with his playmate, he asks the narrator twice if he might be Unitarian .. that made me laugh out loud! Or when he tells his wife that he can't add one moment of life to what God had planned for him, and she replies, "Well I don't want you to go subtracting one from it either" (p. 74). That made me laugh! It's funny, for a book with such a retrospective, elegaic flavor, I find myself laughing often. I also find myself often with my eyes wet!

There's so much more to talk about, but I'll wait until more are underway. :)


message 30: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Shirley wrote: "Glad you're enjoying it, Greg. I found it both profound and beautiful, and there aren't many around that I would describe in that way, or at least not that I've read recently...."

Thanks Shirley, and I love the way you describe it - I agree completely!


Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments I do not remember anything about Mirabelle Mercer, Greg. I am really sorry. As it is not with me presently, I can not even look into the book. Completely handicapped.

I remember the protagonist having a strained relationship with his godson. That part of the story moved me much. Hope, you have already reached that part in the book.


message 32: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Dhanaraj wrote: "I do not remember anything about Mirabelle Mercer, Greg. I am really sorry. As it is not with me presently, I can not even look into the book. Completely handicapped.

I remember the protagonist ha..."


Yes Dhanaraj, at this point it's still very mysterious exactly what Jack Boughton did in his past to evoke this feeling in the narrator, but it's clear he did do something (or at least "old Boughton" told the narrator something about his behavior). I'm sure the reason will be clearer as I get further in the book.

I like the way the narrator struggles with himself against his old bias against Jack, yet the feelings keep coming out in little ways .. so realistic and affecting.


Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments The climax will be superb. Wait for it. Actually there is a seperate volume that deals with James, it seems. But you get a good final to the tension between the protagonist and James in GILEAD itself.


Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Apology: Not James. It is Jack.


message 35: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Kristen, Susan, Alannah, are you enjoying it?


message 36: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan | 10 comments I can't believe I waited this long to read this! Not posting until tonight...can't put down!


message 37: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I can't believe I waited this long to read this! Not posting until tonight...can't put down!"

Glad you're enjoying it too Susan!


Leanne (littlebunnylibrary) I'm really enjoying it but only 50 pages in so far. I'm reading it quite slowly as there's real depth to the language, I just want to savour it! Not many books that make me want to go slower than I already do! (I'm a slow reader!)


Kristen | 52 comments Oh my goodness, it is a delight - a quintessential comfort read. It's a beautiful thing to open a book and immediately adore the protagonist. I'm not very far along yet but will join in the discussion shortly. I've been looking forward all week to a quiet and contemplative reading weekend and this is just the book for it!


Kristen | 52 comments Susan wrote: "I can't believe I waited this long to read this!

I feel exactly the same way, Susan.


message 41: by Greg (last edited Jul 22, 2016 11:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Kristen wrote: "Oh my goodness, it is a delight - a quintessential comfort read. It's a beautiful thing to open a book and immediately adore the protagonist. I'm not very far along yet but will join in the discuss..."

I feel the same Kristen! - the protagonist is so endearing, funny and kind ... wise even. I love his way of seeing the world; his gently optimistic love for humanity (his ability to see the beauty in things) is so different from the antagonistic gloom-and-doom, us-vs-them, sky-is-falling perspectives of a lot of people nowadays. I identify very strongly with the way the protagonist sees the world. His religion isn't mostly politics & ethics; it's an intimate, truly loving thing.


message 42: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Leanne wrote: "I'm really enjoying it but only 50 pages in so far. I'm reading it quite slowly as there's real depth to the language, I just want to savour it! Not many books that make me want to go slower than I..."

I love the language too Leanne - so beautifully written!


message 43: by Greg (last edited Jul 25, 2016 10:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
I'm close to finished - about 30 pages left.

Jack Boughton is becoming a hauntingly vivid character for me - I feel for him despite the despicable thing he did (view spoiler). He just feels so lost.

And I love that the narrator, this really good hearted, well intentioned man, struggles with the puzzle of him. It says so much that even he struggles to believe that a person's "nature" can change. It's up to his quiet and clear sighted wife to say, "A person can change. Everything can change." I do agree with her, oh yes, completely! Maybe something in her past makes her aware of it - her past is still a bit mysterious.

The question of whether Jack in his nature is predestined to be incapable of religious faith is a profound one. I don't believe in predestination myself, but the way Jack's childhood & personality are depicted makes it a complex question. I love the probing conversations Jack & the narrator have about it.

And some of Jack's childhood hijinks (the sunflowers, the molasses on the door stoop, etc), made me laugh out loud, if only at the narrator's frustrated incomprehension and the mild way he puts everything. I can just imagine his utter exasperation as a young man dealing with the adolescent Jack! And that whole thing with the car was priceless too!


message 44: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Just finished - not only did I give this book 5 stars, I also added it to my favorites shelf!

Wow, I loved the conclusion! It made me cry when (view spoiler), such a beautiful moment that passes between them .. in some ways it's the (view spoiler).

I love earlier too the heartfelt way that Jack (view spoiler).


Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments @ Greg: Connect it to the Gospel parable of Lost Sheep and Lost Son. Just saying.


message 46: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Dhanaraj wrote: "@ Greg: Connect it to the Gospel parable of Lost Sheep and Lost Son. Just saying."

For sure Dhanaraj! That connection is very strong!


Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments I saw that episode as the explanation of the Gospel parable. And it is appropriate that the main protagonist is a minister of Lord who has difficulty in accepting him early. Later by acceptance the whole situation changes.


message 48: by Greg (last edited Jul 27, 2016 11:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Dhanaraj wrote: "I saw that episode as the explanation of the Gospel parable. And it is appropriate that the main protagonist is a minister of Lord who has difficulty in accepting him early. Later by acceptance the..."

That's true Dhanaraj, though I think Boughton is more like the father in the parable - his forgiveness is instant and extravagant; he doesn't hold back or delay at all. His arms are wide open, and he runs to meet his son at the gate.

The narrator on the other hand struggles to meet Jack in grace, but when Jack finally opens up to him, the narrator can finally understand & accept him. So then he is able to bless him. And that moment of blessing is so beautiful!!


Leanne (littlebunnylibrary) I finished this book last night - I'm a slow reader and I really didn't want to rush this! I absolutely loved it, and I really didn't think I would. But I was really drawn in by the writing style, and it got me thinking about about so many aspects of humanity, religion, relationships, mortality...

It's quite a slow, meditative book, and a few reviewers seemed to find it boring. But I can honestly say I was hooked on it, but can't really put into words why! I don't read many books like this, but for me it was a nice change of pace from mysteries or "plot-heavy" choices. I think I read it at just the right time to really appreciate it, so thanks for including me in this.

I've bought a copy of "Home" and "Lila", so if you decide to do readalongs of those please let me know!


Kathleen | 311 comments Just dropping by to enjoy everyone's thoughts about this one. I read it earlier this year, and took a really long time with it. So much to think about (and feel with).

I completely agree with you, Kristen, about this being a comfort read! And I like what you said, Greg, about the narrator wanting to meet Jack "in grace." That struggle was so much of the book to me.

One of the profound lines I found memorable, that shows how deep this book can go: "It is a strange thing to feel illness and grief in the same organ. There is no telling one from the other.”


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