48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
leisurely paced, touching,
This review is from: Gilead (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."