Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review - Gilead

This year one of my goals is to read the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction and review them here on my blog. So far this year I've read seven winners, therefore I anticipate it will take me a few years to read through the entire list! I found the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner, Gilead by Marilynne Robison, at our local library.


The title is a reference to the town where Reverend John Ames has lived the majority of his seventy-plus years. The story is written in the form of one long letter from Reverend Ames to his 7-year-old son. The letter is written over the course of several months as he shares about his life, his family (particularly stories about his grandfather [who incited men to join up and fight to end slavery during the Civil War] and father [who was a pacifist], both of whom were also preachers). He also shares about the town and neighbors, often focusing on his name sake John Ames Boughton (the son of his best friend). He rambles on with his thoughts about various scriptures and sermons he's written over the years (which are stored in "boxes and boxes" in the attic).

This book reminded some of Tinkers (the 2010 winner, which I reviewed here). The rambling nature of the letter did not keep my interest and Reverend Ames's concern about John Ames Boughton's character turned out to be rather exaggerated once he finally revealed the whole story. However, the book is very well written and definitely had the feel of a letter written from the perspective of someone looking back on his life, sharing stories as they came to mind, expressing regrets for things that could have been different, and understanding how time can change the way one views a situation.

 Have any of you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I have not. I think my husband started it and gave up on it. I have trouble with rambly so it's probably not for me. I really love your book reviews, by the way! So glad you're posting them.

  2. I read Gilead after a friend lent it to me saying she loved it. I found the rambling nature o.k. and enjoyed some of the stories and insights. Not a book I wanted to own or one I had trouble putting down. But it is one I have thought about so some of the insights sunk in.

    I'm enjoying your reviews too :)

  3. I read Gilead shortly after it was published. I enjoyed it at the time, and I always appreciate Marilynne Robinson's writing, but it's not a book I'd return to.


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