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The narrator, John Ames, is 76, a preacher who has lived almost all of his life in Gilead, Iowa. He is writing a letter to his almost seven-year-old son, the blessing of his second marriage. It is a summing-up, an apologia, a consideration of his life. Robinson takes the story away from being simply the reminiscences of one man and moves it into the realm of a meditation on fathers and children, particularly sons, on faith, and on the imperfectability of man.
The reason for the letter is Ames's failing health. He wants to leave an account of himself for this son who will never really know him. His greatest regret is that he hasn't much to leave them, in worldly terms. "Your mother told you I'm writing your begats, and you seemed very pleased with the idea. Well, then. What should I record for you?" In the course of the narrative, John Ames records himself, inside and out, in a meditative style. Robinson's prose asks the reader to slow down to the pace of an old man in Gilead, Iowa, in 1956. Ames writes of his father and grandfather, estranged over his grandfather's departure for Kansas to march for abolition and his father's lifelong pacifism. The tension between them, their love for each other and their inability to bridge the chasm of their beliefs is a constant source of rumination for John Ames. Fathers and sons.
The other constant in the book is Ames's friendship since childhood with "old Boughton," a Presbyterian minister. Boughton, father of many children, favors his son, named John Ames Boughton, above all others. Ames must constantly monitor his tendency to be envious of Boughton's bounteous family; his first wife died in childbirth and the baby died almost immediately after her. Jack Boughton is a ne'er-do-well, Ames knows it and strives to love him as he knows he should. Jack arrives in Gilead after a long absence, full of charm and mischief, causing Ames to wonder what influence he might have on Ames's young wife and son when Ames dies.
These are the things that Ames tells his son about: his ancestors, the nature of love and friendship, the part that faith and prayer play in every life and an awareness of one's own culpability. There is also reconciliation without resignation, self-awareness without deprecation, abundant good humor, philosophical queries--Jack asks, "'Do you ever wonder why American Christianity seems to wait for the real thinking to be done elsewhere?'"--and an ongoing sense of childlike wonder at the beauty and variety of God's world.
In Marilynne Robinson's hands, there is a balm in Gilead, as the old spiritual tells us. --Valerie Ryan
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Book Description Paperback. Condition: new. Paperback. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION and THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDAN OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICKIn 1956, towards the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son: 'I told you last night that I might be gone sometime. You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother's. It's a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I'm always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I've suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.''A visionary work of dazzling originality' ROBERT MCCRUM, OBSERVER'Writing of this quality, with an authority as unforced as the perfect pitch in music, is rare and carries with it a sense almost of danger' JANE SHILLING, DAILY TELEGRAPH'A beautiful novel: wise, tender and perfectly measured' SARAH WATERS'A masterpiece' SUNDAY TIMES WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION and THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. Seller Inventory # 9781844081486
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Book Description Condition: New. 2006. New Ed. Paperback. From the author of Housekeeping, Gilead is the long-hoped-for second novel by one of America's finest writers. Chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of the top 6 novels of 2004. 'A beautiful novel: wise, tender and perfectly measured' Sarah Waters Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 196 x 130 x 19. Weight in Grams: 228. . . . . . Seller Inventory # V9781844081486
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