Saturday, April 22, 2006

'Gilead' by Marilynne Robinson

I’ve heard that people either think Gilead is one of the best books they’ve ever read or that it was merely “OK.” I can see why they might say that. It does move slowly and not much happens but having recently finished it I must say that I fall into the former category. This book is wonderful. The writing is exquisite and the characters are compelling, especially the narrator, John Ames. I met with a small group at Calvin Seminary to discuss the book on two occasions (and got to hear the author, Marilynne Robinson speak yesterday) and truly enjoyed that.

When I was half-way through the book I made the comment that “this is the best book I’ve ever read in which nothing happens.” However, now that it’s finished I now see that something indeed does happen. There is a reconciliation in the book that is stunningly beautiful in its complexity – this is no “everything’s fine” ending. Neither is it one of those endings where the reader is left unsatisfied. What we see is a wonderful story of grace, something the whole book leads up to. This is a book full of faith and theology without beating you over the head with it. I heartily recommend this book.

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