Monday, January 19, 2015

Gilead ~ an ache and a wonder


You’re swaying in the breeze on your front porch swing in the twilight when the postman sets on your lap a box marked Life: Fragile, Handle with Care. Fireflies twinkle in the bushes as dusk falls. Gently, you open the box and lift out the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. You begin reading.

Front Cover
On Gilead’s pages the Reverend John Ames of Gilead, Iowa, rambles through his long life there. You read about Ames’ loves and losses, his fears and struggles, always reflected in the quiet light of God’s word and His comfort, guidance, and grace. Ames, writing in 1956, spins stories of his father’s and grandfather’s lives. In the era of slavery, abolition, the Civil War, his grandfather was a hawk, his father a dove, so these anecdotes are lively, rich, and personal. Ames’ best friend, Boughton, who lives down the block, receives a visit from his mysterious wayward adult son during the novel. Prepare to hold your breath for the slow reveal. Ames is about to die and writes this memoir so that his young son will be able to know him and his heritage.

Accounts of generations of fathers and sons as well as the town’s history create a microcosm of the human condition. Marilynne Robinson’s writing style beautifully expresses the splendor in the ordinary. Gilead is both an ache and a wonder. Life is fragile; handle with care.

1 comment:

Carol Van Der Woude said...

It has been a number of years since I read Gilead, but I agree. Generations and splendor in the ordinary.

A couple years later I heard Ms. Robinson speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing--one of the main speakers. I was disappointed that she included politics in her address.