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Gilead Kindle Edition

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Length: 289 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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...a country of mystical sunsets, abandoned shacks, storms that could have come out of the book of Job, snowstorms that that can take your life within a few feet of your own front door, and wild rivers in which one can be baptized. I said Marilynne Robinson's prose was like clear, cold water and so it is - and sometimes it is about water too - you are never far from its cleansing, chilly power, or from the mysterious rush of the wind, sounding like the ocean in a region impossibly far from any sea. (Peter Hitchens Mail Online)

Her poetic, almost biblical style of writing...flows like clear cold water and is full of quiet power while remaining oddly conversational... People say they love these books, and I can see why. Quite how they can do so without discerning within them a serious, deep, patient but modest defence of the Christian proposition, I do not know. (Peter Hitchens Mail Online)

Gilead is no less a masterpiece than Housekeeping (Sunday Times)

Stunning... there are gems on every page of Gilead, but it is the whole construction that marks it as a great work (Daily Telegraph)

The slow pulse of Robinson's writing slows the reader's eye and mind, and creates in the reading process a literary version of the narrator's spiritual experience. Gilead reminds us that words have power to spare, to forgive, to do justice (Independent)

A novel as big as a nation, as quiet as thought, and moving as prayer. Matchless and towering. (Kirkus Review)

Publishers Weekly

'Many writers try to capture life's universals... but Robinson truly succeeds in what is destined to become her second classic.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 575 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (7 May 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TXZR4U
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,613 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Marilynne Robinson was born in 1947. Her first novel, Housekeeping (1981) received the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel as well as being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her second novel, GILEAD, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and her third, HOME, won the Orange Prize for Fiction.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 92 people found the following review helpful By tillyschneider on 12 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gilead is a superb novel. It's a book that grows in stature and interest as it proceeds - it is the journal of a man who is coming to the end of his life, written specifically for his young son. His son is the child of a second marriage - his first wife and child died - and he married his much younger second wife late, and so is an old man (77) with a young son (nearly 7). As the journal progresses, he tells stories of his relationship with his own father, and of his grandfather - three generations of church ministers, the grandfather having been involved in the Civil War, the father an ardent pacifist, the narrator trying to come to terms with his own life and what will happen when he dies. The strength of the book is in the power of this narrative - the relationships that are evoked by the understated but beautiful prose of the journal, and the man's own wrestling with his inner life as well as the life and lives going on around him. A specific story emerges, and the book becomes very moving in unexpected ways. There is a lot of Christian theology, and yet because of the main focus of the narrative, this is interesting and pertinent, and should not put off those who have no interest in religion - odd to have so much theology at the centre of a novel, but it's a very human take on theology, and the open-mindedness of the narrator gives a richness and thought-provoking depth to ideas about belief in God and practical issues of being human. I found it a very subtle book, and one that slowly enthralled me. There is very little dialogue, because of the nature of the narrative, but it never becomes monotonous. It is like a meditation on the nature of father and son relationships, yet written by a woman - I found it quite extraordinary, and definitely to be recommended to anyone looking for a slower, more thoughtful read. Anyone who has read Marilynne Robinson’s previous novel, the beautiful Housekeeping, will surely not be disappointed.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Paul Callick on 6 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
An extraordinary book, even just in formal terms. Others have commented here on the human side of things (which I found very moving), but I'd add something about story-telling here. Like John McGahern's amazing 'That They May Face the Rising Run' (his last novel), 'Gilead' is astonishing in how the reader glimpses small scenes and fragments of the past almost subliminally, scenes which are then seen again, still from afar. It makes the reader lean in towards the story, peering closely, as if saying, 'what was that? Did I really see THAT?' So the story relies on reluctance, tact, and half-recalled things, and things of loveliness or disturbance glimpsed at the edge of life. Others have done this ('Beloved', so movingly), but Robinson is really wonderful at the fleetingness of things. I've rarely felt I've had to quietly attend to small things, as when leaning in towards this book. It's simply a marvel of technique. And most strange that she might have learned this art from the short lyric poems of George Herbert.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Walter on 30 Nov. 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Gilead" is Marilynne Robinson's second novel, written more than 20 years after "Housekeeping," which drew much critical acclaim as well as the 1981 PEN/Hemingway Award. "Gilead" takes the form of a long letter written in 1956 by a dying 76-year-old pastor to his 7-year-old son in the small town of Gilead, Iowa. The novel is very leisurely paced (think of Wendell Berry at his most leisurely) and meanders down the side roads of memory and reverie--telling a few tall tales, recounting the strange exploits of the narrator's firebrand abolitionist grandfather, and dwelling on the occasional theological issue (the narrator has wrestled much of his life with the humanist theology of Ludwig Feuerbach, a struggle made easier for the narrator by the works of Karl Barth). Being a slow-building, character-based novel, there is no plot to speak of in "Gilead." However, the story ultimately addresses the theme of the prodigal son and ends with a touching and nearly-unexpected poignancy. This is a thoughtful and deeply religious novel by a top literary talent: beautiful, if not a pinnacle work of the genre like Bo Giertz's "The Hammer of God."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 16 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Gilead is a novel which is in fact the letter of dying Reverend John Ames to his son written in Gilead, Iowa in 1956. Knowing that he will not be around for much longer and will not be able to tell his son of his `begats' and family history he decides that he will write it all down for him. It's his final testament if you will for his son `who may not remember me in the future'. Now you would be thinking that with a novel like this there isn't going to be much joy, however actually despite there being no particular storyline this is really a book filled with the celebration of life. As John Ames memoirs come in stops and starts and have no particular structure you are given insight into the memories of an everyday man as he makes his way in the world and the trials and tribulations along the way.

I admit I was worried for the first 40 or so pages that this was going to be a beautifully written but ultimately boring read. Indeed was almost certain my `if you don't like it by page 80 put it down' rule was going to come into play but it didn't. Page 80 was suddenly 20, 40, 60 pages behind me and the prose was taking me along with it on its meandering delightful journey. Robinson's prose is possibly some of the most beautifully written prose I have the pleasure of turning pages too and undoubtedly is what kept me going to what is quite an ending (that is all I will say about the ending) and the final page.

Now it's rare that a book can make me emotional but this one did. I don't know if it's because I myself have looked after someone who is terminally ill or just the prose and the way Robinson puts you into the mind of a dying man but passages such as this set me off.
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