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Gilead Paperback – 2 Feb 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 209 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (2 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844081486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844081486
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

...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)

Book Description

From the author of Housekeeping, Gilead is the long-hoped-for second novel by one of America's finest writers. Chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of the top 6 novels of 2004. 'A beautiful novel: wise, tender and perfectly measured' Sarah Waters

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In think Marilynne Robinson is rightly regarded as one of America's finest living writers. When reading her books you feel like you are in the company of a highly intelligent, reflective and articulate writer. This of course means the writing isn't always easy and if you have a tendency to skim read you will miss a lot of what is on offer.
The thoughts and ideas of the reverend who narrates this book through writings to his son are so well developed that it seems to me that they must, at least in part, reflect the ideas of the author herself.
Some of the writing is philosophical in character and does need more careful attention then you might usually give to a novel. For example, when the reverend explains his view on our inability to understand the nature of God he writes :
" ... if God is the Author of existence what can it mean to say God exists? There's a problem in vocabulary. He would have had to have had a character before existence which the poverty of our understanding can only call existence. That is clearly a source of confusion". Not your standard fare!
But, don't get me wrong, the book is not all hard going and it does contain an interesting story, especially in the second half (which I wont spoil).
If I was to quibble with the book at all (and sometimes you simply feel not worthy to do so with some writers) it is that I didn't really like the book being presented as the writings of an elderly dying reverend to his very young son. I found this a bit of a distraction and would have preferred it to have been presented as a memoir to be read by me the reader.
But make no mistake Marilynne Robinson is a stellar writer, and this book has prompted me to investigate her more academic writings. I am partial to the writings of people like Dennett and Dawkins who she apparently attacks, so it should be interesting to see what she has to say on the limits of science.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book made me cry out loud in a coffee shop. I have never done that before. Incredible.
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I loved this book. Every sentence is a joy to read as the story unfolds. Forgiveness, duty and love are the main themes and quite a departure from fast paced crime dramas that I like to read yet it held my attention for the entire book. Thank goodness for the variety of book club!
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I loved this book. The word pictures were haunting at times. The writing was beautiful, measured and weighty. This is not a book to 'fly' through ... but to savour and take time to focus and concentrate. I now need to think! I may have left it , but it hasn't left me!
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This book is just so beautiful, intelligent and heartfelt. Thank You.
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One of the most beautiful and moving books I have ever read. Every passage is a work of art. It is a book to be savoured and I found myself reading it slowly, over weeks.
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A simple but profound story, beautifully written, embodying great wisdom. A classic of its kind.
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I abandoned this book, too many other good reads waiting.
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