Review: Gilead

Editorial Review - - Norah Piehl

An old spiritual hymn says, "There is a balm in Gilead to soothe the sinsick soul." Gilead, the mountainous region of the hymn, and Gilead, Iowa, might seem as removed as night and day. But in Marilynne Robinson's luminous novel, even this tiny plains town can be the site of grace and the goodness of God: "So often I have seen the dawn come and the light flood over the land and everything turn ... Read full review

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At times it was a struggle to stick with the voice of this novel but the effort was well worth it. It contains insightful views on loneliness, relationships, individuality, religion - in short, the makings of being human from the point of view a man who has ardently tried to make sense of what that means. I immediately followed this book with HOME which features the same characters from a different point of view. A very interesting approach that fleshes out the characters in a totally different perspective. Both were beautifully crafted. 

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Great book. Difficult to read because at times a little rambling - but this is consistent with the premise. A dying pastor is writing a letter for his son, but becomes side tracked and the letter turns into a journal of sorts. It covers an overview of John Ames own life - stayed in the same town in Iowa. Some of the family history - grandfather worked with John Brown and active in helping escaped slaves, father a pacifist . Interspersed with this history is the journal part. A generous, open-minded christian struggles with his relationship with a god son who returns home while the letter is being written. This is a book that will take a second reading. 

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Didn't get into this at all. Read it because it was recommended by so many writers I admire (including Geraldine Brooks). I found it sweet, but not particularly moving or interesting.

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I wish I could rate this book with 6 stars!! I know it isn't fast paced but there is a gold mine for those who will listen and be patient.

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How a woman author was able to pull off an 80-year-old preacher is unbelievable.

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