Book Review: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson


General Fiction > Historical Fiction

Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America’s heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson’s beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows “even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order” (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2005), Ambassador Book Award for Fiction (2005), PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist (2005), National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2004)


How I wish you could’ve known me in my strength.

Gilead. Here’s a book that I would like to keep in my shelf. In years to come, I would like to reread it again, and again. For there is so much power in Robinson’s words, so much love in Ames’ narration.

John Ames is a minister, so I began reading with apprehension. Would this be a spiritual teaching? I hope not, else I will be bored in a snap. And my hope was not in vain. Ames narrates his journey in life, and how these circumstances shaped him as a man, son, husband, and father. I sometimes forget that he is a man of cloth. All I often see is a person who knows his time will be up soon, so he recalled his past, so that his son might pick up something that will remind him how his father loved him so.

Avoid transgression. How’s that for advice?

I especially liked the parts where Ames was talking about his love for his second wife. I could feel the giddiness in his voice when he described his feelings for Lila. I could feel his devotion to the quiet strength she exudes, for him and their son. It was something to smile about, really. Finding love late in his life, and for the second time! Truly encourages one’s soul to persevere, to hope that that kind of relationship will be his/hers to deserve.

I guess I will not be coherent enough to write a review for Gilead. Reading it was enlightening. I keep seeing my son, and how much I wanted to leave a legacy to him. I keep seeing my dad, on Ames’ grandfather, on how he helps other people even if his family has none to give already. What a beautiful experience Marilynne Robinson has given me.

I remember him those days, loving God for the existence of love, and being grateful to God for the existence of gratitude, right down in the depths of my misery.

Goodreads – The Filipino Group Book of the Month (April)

#21 Off-the-Shelf Challenge 2013


GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson

Paperback, 247 pages

Published January 10th 2006 by Picador

4/5 stars


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

  1. Pingback: Elated: Best Reads of 2013 | reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

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