Comment: Fans of Robinson's debut Housekeeping have been waiting 23 years for her to
publish a second novel and, according to the overwhelmingly glowing reviews, the
wait has been worth it. The story is told by the Rev. John Ames who at 77
years of age in 1956, and in failing health, decides to write a letter to his
six-year-old son with an account of his life, and that of his father and grandfather. Doesn't sound like much of a storyline I know but, as the
saying goes, it's not what you say but how you say it! Here are a few
comments from the multitude of reviewers who have already pitched in with their
views on Gilead.
'Robinson's prose is beautiful, shimmering and precise; the revelations are subtle but never muted when they come, and the careful telling carries the breath of suspense.... Many writers try to capture life's universals of strength, struggle, joy and forgiveness - but Robinson truly succeeds in what is destined to become her second classic.' - Publishers Weekly.
'A beautifully rendered story . . . full of penetrating intellect and artful prose . . . that captures the splendors and pitfalls of being alive . . . The world could use more novels this wise and radiant.' - The Charlotte Observer.
About the author: Marilynne Robinson was born in 1947 in Sandpoint, Idaho. After attending high school in Sandpoint she went to Brown University, graduating in 1966; she then enrolled in the graduate program in English at the University of Washington, where she started writing her first novel, Housekeeping (1981) which tells the story of two girls growing up in rural Idaho in the mid-1900s and is regarded by many as an American classic; it received the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
After the publication of Housekeeping, Robinson began writing essays and book reviews for Harper's, Paris Review, and The New York Times Book Review. She also served as writer-in-residence and visiting professor at numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Kent in England, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts.
Her second book, Mother Country: Britain, The Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution (1988), revealed the extensive environmental damage caused by the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, in the north of England; the book evolved from an essay that she wrote for Harper's Review and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
A decade later, she published a collection of essays entitled The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought. Gilead, her second novel, was published in hardcover simultaneously in the US, UK and Canada in November 2004.
This review is from the January 18, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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