Friday, March 20, 2009
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead is the touching story of Reverend John Ames, an elderly pastor, who knows he hasn’t long to live. It is a collection of thoughts and memories he wants to pass on to his son. Although Ames seems to meander at times (making his words seem like the realistic ramblings of an old man), his reflections are anything but boring. You’ll laugh out loud at his thieving grandpa and you’ll grieve over his brother’s loss of faith. In the midst of the writing of his memoirs, Jack Boughton, a ne’er-do-well young man, comes to town and threatens Pastor Ames’ happiness. The struggle between Ames’ pastoral concern for Jack and his fear of Jack creates a fascinating story.
One of the only reasons the book did not make my “Wow!” list is because I had just read Cry, the Beloved Country - a pretty hard act for any book to follow. But while Cry is an intense story with an “avalanche of mercy”, Gilead is a gently told tale in which grace is dispersed in lovely, intermittent snowflakes. It’s a beautifully written book that celebrates the gifts and graces of life.