Gilead: A Novel

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov 19, 2004 - Fiction - 247 pages
1253 Reviews
2005 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction 2004 National Book Critics Circle Winner In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowan preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition: He "preached men into the Civil War," then, at age fifty, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle. Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father--an ardent pacifist--and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend's wayward son.

This is also the tale of another remarkable vision--not a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames's soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten.

Gilead is the long-hoped-for second novel by one of our finest writers, a hymn of praise and lamentation to the God-haunted existence that Reverend Ames loves passionately, and from which he will soon part.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Beautiful writing but plot-thin. - Goodreads
I found it hard to read at first. - Goodreads
Gorgeous, slow, reflective prose. - Goodreads
Lovely account full of wisdom and insight. - Goodreads
Solid book with solid storytelling. - Goodreads
But, be prepared for a slow pace. - Goodreads

Review: Gilead (Gilead #1)

User Review  - Jessica Christine - Goodreads

One of the most beautiful books I've read. Read full review

Review: Gilead (Gilead #1)

User Review  - Babakathryn - Goodreads

Wonderful, quiet, thought-provoking, pondering, --everything that is getting lost in today's world that surrounded lives in the past. This was not a fast read. This was a little bites at a time, slowly sinking in, let it percolate--just a delightful story. Read full review

All 6 reviews »

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2004)

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the modern classic Housekeeping (FSG, 1981)--winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award--and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country (FSG, 1989) and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Bibliographic information