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Lila Paperback – 1 Oct 2015
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A masterpiece . . . Lila is a superb creation (Publishers Weekly)
One of the greatest living novelists . . . [Lila is] just as wise, moving and genuine as its predecessors (Harper's Bazaar)
Robinson brings [the story] to pulsating life in prose of great and luminous beauty . . . a book that leaves the reader feeling what can only be called exaltation (Neel Mukherjee Independent)
This superb novel can only add to [Robinson's] already stratospherically high reputation (Daily Mail)
Lila is a really beautiful book: beautiful prose, beautiful story; morally beautiful too. After reading it the world seems more dazzling, fuller of wonder and mystery than it did before, as if you were newly in love. I wish I could persuade everyone who ever buys a book to read this one (Cressida Connolly Spectator)
Deeply moving, almost transformative . . . frank and direct, but occasionally moved to ecstasy by the spirit (Sunday Times)
Tinged with heartbreaking beauty (Scotsman)
Although Lila revisits the characters of Robinson's previous books, Gilead, a Pulitzer prizewinner, and Home, a finalist in the American National Book Awards, and brings a certain completeness to their journeys, the book stands well on its own as a powerful search for the meaning of life as well as a touching and unlikely story of love and, ultimately, hope (The Times)
Robinson is a glorious writer . . . This novel, different in tone from its predecessors, stands beautifully alongside them (Claire Messud Financial Times)
There is no one quite like this American writer, or quite as good as her . . . extraordinarily fluent and pitch perfect prose (Tablet)
Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in one of the most acclaimed novels of 2014See all Product description
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Lila was a neglected child who was taken in by a mysterious woman called Doll. The two of them fled the home town and became vagrants, joining with a group of others and seeking work on farms as they moves from one place to another. It was the time of the depression and many people were in severe poverty. The author really makes you feel how fragile their existence was and how reliant they were on others. When Doll is arrested for murder Lila has to make her own way in life without the mother figure on whom she has depended. She finds work in a brothel - making her own place there as a cook and maid because she is not suited for the main activity of the business. The author has no illusions about that type of life and this is clear as she describes what happens to Lila both in the brothel and later as she escapes and lives a precarious life on her own. Parts of this narrative are heartwrenching as Lila loses her mother figure and we begin to realise what Doll has done to preserve the life of this young woman.
The book also talks about the slowly developing relationship between Lila and John Ames. How she has to learn to trust and how he has to realise that his attraction to her does not mean that she is not her own person. This is tender and touching and this book adds another dimension to the stories in the two which precede it (I advise reading the books in the correct order although you actually don't have to as they each make perfect sense on their own). As the book ends you still don't know what life now has in store for Lila, especially as her husband is frail.
Lila is a marvellous character. A woman capable of thought and absolutely formed by everything that has happened to her. She has an ability to survive and a need to love and is strong despite all that has happened to her. The minor characters, as described by Lila, are also complex and mostly driven by their circumstances. The author gives us a true understanding of poverty and what drives people to wander - the story of the boy who Lila finds in her shack is very believable. The difference between Lila and her travelling companions and those who have houses, security and a place in the world is reinforced over and over again by Lila's experiences.
This is a touching. tender and often very sad book. It tells of broken lives and wounded souls as well as those who cannot be healed. Lila is a strong and brilliantly realised character whose voice is one of acceptance and forgiveness. I don't know if the author has more to say about the inhabitants of Gilead but if she does I really want to hear it.
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