Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson – worth reading!

Book: Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead: A Novel. Macmillan, 2004.


Audio: 8.8 hours

Point: Life can be sweet. Life can be hard. Life can be disappointing. Life can be fulfilling. Almost never is it spectacular, but also never is it not worth evaluating.

Path: This novel is set in rural Iowa and reads as the final memoirs of a Congregationalist minister who had lived in that town his whole life. You hear his loves and his heartaches, which are not necessarily experiences, but people.

Sources: Excellent representation of the inner thoughts of a small town pastor.

Agreement: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me think of my grandfather ministering in a small town in Montana, and my wife’s grandfather and the various ministries he held over his years as pastor. I felt as though it were written to me and I was opening a treasured journal of a beloved grandfather.

Some may see it as having no plot, but that is part of the beauty of the writing. He was a small town pastor whose “plot” of life was not defined by great experiences, but normal people. John Ames, the writer of the memoirs, spent much of his time sitting, thinking, and writing. Something each of us could do more of. The plot of the book is his working through various issues in his heart and life.

The reader of the audio book was fantastic. I have not heard a better voice to book relation in all of our book listening.

The book also walks through the various stages of Protestant Christianity in the US. There are abolitionists, fighters, pacifists, liberals, and small town pastors.

Personal App: Do I wrestle with my true thoughts and character as I should, or do I sweep them away under the rug of busy living?

Favorite Quote: “We agreed it [magazine article] must have been fairly widely read in both our congregations, because on one page there’s a recipe for that molded salad of orange gelatin with stuffed green olives and shredded cabbage and anchovies that has dogged my ministerial life these last years, and which appears at his house whenever he so much as catches cold. There should be a law to prevent recipes for molded salad from appearing within twenty pages of any article having to do with religion” (145).

Stars: 5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

If this review was helpful, let me know here.

Here is a great series of blog posts about how to read the book