Book - 2004
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A NOVEL THAT READERS and critics have been eagerly anticipating for over a decade, Gilead is an astonishingly imagined story of remarkable lives. John Ames is a preacher, the son of a preacher and the grandson (both maternal and paternal) of preachers. It's 1956 in Gilead, Iowa, towards the end of the Reverend Ames's life, and he is absorbed in recording his family's story, a legacy for the young son he will never see grow up. Haunted by his grandfather's presence, John tells of the rift between his grandfather and his father: the elder, an angry visionary who fought for the abolitionist cause, and his son, an ardent pacifist. He is troubled, too, by his prodigal namesake, Jack (John Ames) Boughton, his best friend's lost son who returns to Gilead searching for forgiveness and redemption. Told in John Ames's joyous, rambling voice that finds beauty, humour and truth in the smallest of life's details, Gilead is a song of celebration and acceptance of the best and the worst the world has to offer. At its heart is a tale of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, pitch-perfect in style and story, set to dazzle critics and readers alike.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.
ISBN: 9780002005883
Characteristics: 247 pages ; 22 cm


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debwalker Mar 17, 2021

Oprah has chosen! The Gilead series is the March 2021 Oprah Book Club pick.

Nov 17, 2020

Read 1st before 'Home'

Aug 10, 2020

Loved the parts about abolition and fighting to free the slaves. Loved the parts about war and how hateful it is. The talk of war was always about his grandfather. I guess John Ames b. 1880 was too old even for the WW1 draft, and so missed the drafts of WWII and Korean Wars as well. Wish he would have talked about the wars of his lifetime.
A lot of theological and philosophical rambling, like the difference between existence and being. Like, ...., so ....?!?
Why do non Catholics continually get their undies in a bundle about transubstantiation...? Catholics don’t like much care. Spoken as an ardent Catholic and educated at a Jesuit university (jebbies are awesome...).
FINALLY the last few chapters get into what’s happening in the people’s lives...!!! Sheesh...
The author published this book in 2004, She wrote this book before 2004. She wrote this book before 2020 and the corona virus pandemic..
The author writes about the ‘Spanish’ flu of 2014-2015 - saying that the preacher spoke from his pulpit with a scarf wrapping his head for a year, and people sat way apart from each other..
Yeah, 100 years ago, they wore masks.

May 05, 2020

This is the second book.

Mar 03, 2020

This entire book consists of a journal or notebook written by an aging reverend, John Ames, to his seven year-old son, whom I don’t remember ever being named. It was clear throughout the narrative that Ames loved his son immensely, and that he was intimately aware that he would die too early in his son’s life for his son to have deep, colorful memories of him. So this journal, these writings, were to make up for that, in a sense.

In passing on his legacy and memory to his son in the form of a journal, Ames shared most of the stories that made him who he was, and how they shaped him, any regrets or mined wisdom from each, etc. Ames’ family, especially his grandfather, was involved pretty heavily in the abolition movement in Iowa and Kansas in the mid to late 1860s, and hearing Ames recount some of those stories was one of my favorite parts of this book. But it definitely didn’t play a central role in the story. The friendship Ames had with a neighbor and fellow reverend was moving, and I wish Robinson would write another story in this friendship in particular. The next books in the series may get into that - fingers crossed.

I am often highly, umm, apprehensive of Christian churches in the US, so I’m glad I chose this book before finding out who the narrator was. I chose this book because of the excitement of the Book Riot podcast hosts when they heard a fourth and final installment of this series is due out in late 2020. That, and Robinson won a Pulitzer in 2005 for it. There wasn’t a lot of action in the story, which is fine by me. The narrator was a very pensive individual, and this book mirrors that. Reverend Ames was a very compelling and likeable character/narrator, brimming with love, wisdom, grace, and humanity. Many of the supporting characters were also compelling in different ways, and I can’t wait to read Robinson’s next installments.

STPL_JessH Sep 13, 2019

I love this book. I was moved to tears many times. I felt as though I was inside an extended prayer with all the contradictions and reckoning that comes with devotion and steadfast faith. Just a beautiful book.

Aug 08, 2019

A thoughtful story that is beautifully written. It is a deeply moving portrayal of a good man who happens to be a Christian.

IndyPL_SteveB Jul 14, 2019

If you ever see a booklist on the subject of “the experience of being a human” and the list does NOT include *Gilead*, don’t trust the list. This is one of the absolute best American novels and should be a long-term classic. Marilynne Robinson is sometimes listed as one of the great American writers, and this book is graceful and inspired evidence of that.

John Ames, a 76-year old Congregationalist preacher in the small Iowa town of Gilead, has heart disease. He is still preaching and doing everything he can to help his church members; but he knows he doesn’t have too many months left to live. He begins to write a series of letters to his son to explain his family’s “begats”; but it turns into a self-examination of what John appreciates and regrets about his life.

We soon understand that John’s son is only 10 years old and John has had a complicated life. He seems to be thinking that he is going to write about death and history. But he can’t keep that up long; because he is more interested in the life around him.

Since the narrator is a committed Christian, the story is deeply immersed in that viewpoint. But interestingly, the book is not really “Christian” fiction; i.e., the author is not writing this book to convert anyone to Christianity. The book shows life viewed through the eyes of a narrator who happens to be a Christian, with all of the failings and virtues of many good people. I think anyone who values seeing the world through different eyes, whether a Christian or not, would get equal value from this novel.

The writing is deep, thoughtful, and beautiful. It’s a short novel but not something I could read rapidly. Every few paragraphs, I drifted off on memories of my own, as the writer stimulated parts of my brain that had been stored away.

Jun 23, 2019

This Gilead, Home, actually stands as the 1st book of Marilynne Robinson's 3 title Gilead series.
Book 1, title of Gilead, pub yr 2004: book 2 of title Home, yr 2008, and Lila, book 3, yr 2014.

Her novel, Gilead, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction Best Book in year 2005.

I had not read the first and second book in the series when I read Lila.

Robinson teaches at the famous University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has also published 9 theme based nonfiction titles.
Robinson has either been nominated for, or won, eleven recognitions by highly acclaimed prize granting organization, for her writing, thru yr 2016.

Please consider reading at least one of Robinson's novels.

Feb 22, 2019

No copies available at this time (2-22-19)

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Apr 09, 2014

sandra_src thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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BDeB Feb 21, 2011

an intimate tale of three generations, from the Civil War to the 20th century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart


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