Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Summary:
In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears.

My take: 4 looks
I removed most of the summary on this one, because I am finding that summaries give too much detail. They make statements on the nuances of the story that the reader should be left to determine. That was the case here.

Gilead was a difficult book for me to get into. I found it slow and sloshy. The lack of chapters was different, and the journal/letter format was off-putting.

However, I found an afternoon that I could sit unencumbered and give to it my full attention. What a beautiful flower this book turned into! The tightest of buds in the beginning, slowly opening its petals to the world, and finally releasing the sweetest of fragrances.

I picked up this book because it won the Pulitzer, and I wanted to find a book that I felt was worthy of this award. After reading several others, and finding them sorely lacking, I have found (along with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind) a true masterpiece strong enough to support the honor.

The premise of the book is an aged father writing to his young son. He wants his son to know him in a way that time will not allow. I am not going to go into much detail about the nature of the entries, but I will tell you that John Ames is a man of love, wonder, faith, and hope. He is beautifully presented, then compared and contrasted with his best friend, his wife, and his namesake.

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it. p28

“The full soul loathes an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” There are pleasures to be found where you would never look for them. p39

A moment is such a slight thing, I mean, that its abiding is a most gracious reprieve. p162

Adulthood is a wonderful thing, and brief. You must be sure to enjoy it while it lasts. p166

Highly recommended.

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