Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

This is a quiet, thoughtful book about an elderly man keeping a journal for his young son. Rev. John Ames knows his time is limited. His heart is failing, but he doesn't feel ready to leave his young family. There is so much he wants to tell his son, who he knows will remember him only as an old man who died when he was very young.

Rev. Ames writes to his son about his own father and grandfather, telling their stories as well as his own. He talks about life in their hometown of Gilead when he was a younger man, about his good friend, Boughton and Boughton's family, and about his own first family - a wife and child who died young and left him living in solitude for many years.

As John gradually discloses his story, the reader can't help but grow fond of him. He's as honest about his failings as his successes; he's humble, wise and as human as you and I. While I was reading I forgot it was a novel. It's written with breaks but no chapters, as a personal journal would be, and that's exactly what it was like to read.

It's a wonderful story, one I can't quite imagine anyone not liking - it's that good. It's gently written, the kind of writing I can read over and over, but I'll leave you with this sample so you can see for yourself:

"...I've developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from, except, of course, that some very tedious gentlemen have written books."


Kate said...

Sounds good - I like how you describe it as "gently written". I added it to my list.

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