Reader reviews and comments on Lila, plus links to write your own review.

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Lila by Marilynne Robinson X
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2014, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2015, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright
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Diane S.

Lila
There is something about the character Lila that I connected to in a big way. How she came to Gilead and married to a preacher is a story that is both poignant and life confirming. She is such a diverse character, wise yet naïve, suspicious yet giving, always thinking and searching for answers.

Reading about her young life, her life as a traveler, going wherever Doll, the woman who took her, needed to go in order to find work. Loved the character of Doll, the wise old woman who had such a tough life yet took a little girl in order to save and protect her. Such hard lives, especially during the depression when all work literally dried up, leaving little recourse for, those who lived on the road, going from place to place. Eventually Lila would find her way alone to Gilead, with a past she didn't want to speak of, but thought of often. She would find comfort sitting in the church and would find her way to the scriptures, looking for a reason for her own existence.

Loved this story, the writing and descriptions are just beautiful and serve to balance the sometimes ugliness of Lila's journey. I read Gilead a while ago and now want to re-read as I feel after reading this novel I will have a different perspective.
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

moving and thought-provoking novel
“She saw him standing in the parlor with his beautiful old head bowed down on his beautiful old chest……….Praying looks just like grief. Like shame. Like regret”
Lila is the fourth novel by prize-winning American author, Marilynne Robinson, and the third book in the Gilead series. Readers of the first book will recall that seventy-six year old Reverend John Ames was married to Lila, a woman thirty-five years his junior who had borne him a son seven years before. Just how that somewhat intriguing situation came to be: how an old man came to marry a much younger woman, a woman with a very different background to that of his first wife; is what Robinson relates in this third book.

As her life with John Ames and her pregnancy progresses, Lila, a seemingly prickly character, thinks back on her life, the events of which are gradually revealed. It has been a life filled with hardship, loneliness and loss (“Don’t want what you don’t need and you’ll be fine. Don’t want what you can’t have”) and Lila finds it difficult to trust her new-found security with John Ames, constantly reassuring herself that she can leave at any time and go back to what she had before, although she is loathe to hurt him (“Maybe I can teach him a new kind of sadness. Maybe he really does care whether I stay or go”). It seems an unlikely match but as Lila reads the Bible and challenges John with all sorts of difficult questions about life, it becomes apparent that both parties benefit from the union. She muses “What would I pray for, if I thought there was any point to it? Well, I guess the first thing would have to be that there was some kind of point to it” and eventually finds that his care “was nothing she had known to hope for and something she had wanted too much all the same. So too much happiness came with it, and happiness was strange to her.”

This is a novel with some beautiful descriptive prose (“She had never really thought about the way the dead would gather at the edge of town, all their names spelled out so you’d know whose they were for as long as that family lived in that place” and “….the fields looking so green in the evening light…Every farmhouse in its cloud of trees. There is a way trees stir before rain, as if they already felt the heaviness”), as well as many words of wisdom (“Any good thing is less good the more any human lays claim to it” and “Thinking about hell doesn’t help me life the way I should”).
This moving and thought-provoking novel, National Book Award Nominee for Fiction 2014, is a heart-warming read.
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