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.