Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Forgiveness. Forgiveness of others but, more importantly, forgiveness of ourselves. That is what Reverend John Ames struggles with as he writes to his child a journal that will be the only way in which his son will know him. Nearing the end of his life, the Reverend Ames is looking back at all the big and small ways in which he failed himself. And the forgiveness he seeks can only be accomplished as he tells his his story to someone he loves so much but whom will likely remember him in only a vague and impersonal way. This boy who will only know him in blurry memories will know the deepest and truest internal life of Reverend John Ames. There is something so heartbreaking and beautiful in that.
I finally picked up Gilead to do a readalong of the Gilead series (soon to be a quartet) with Lori of An Irreverent Escapade. The slow Midwestern style was something I wasn't sure this overcaffeinated Northeasterner would appreciate. But Robinson's writing is so full of truth and understanding of all human experience, that I was instantly won over. Her writing is witty, without necessarily being quick-witted. It's intelligent without being pedantic. It's knowing without being condescending. it is everything a book needs to be. And there are three more to look forward to!
Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.
Gilead is the winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.