Position:Book review




By Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson's critically acclaimed debut novel, Housekeeping (1980), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her next two books, both set in the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa, were equally celebrated: Gilead (???? SELECTION Mar/Apr 2005) won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, while Home (???? SELECTION Nov/Dec 2008) received the Orange Prize for Fiction. Lila, the third installment in the Gilead trilogy, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

THE STORY: In Gilead, Reverend John Ames, elderly and in poor health, writes a long and moving letter to his young son, which only tangentially mentions his much younger wife, Lila. In Lila, the reverend's wife tells her own story. Kidnapped by a migrant worker, Doll, as a neglected toddler, Lila spends her youth on the road, wandering, penniless, hungry, and cold, but fiercely loyal to the woman who has become her only family. Years later, Lila drifts into Gilead, where she ducks into a church to escape from the rain and first catches sight of her "beautiful old man." An unlikely romance blooms, but can feral, vagabond Lila learn to be happy in one place?

Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages. $26. ISBN: 9780374187613

Dallas Morning News ????

"Praise be: Now we have Lila's story, in her words, from inside her own head. And what a dark, terrifying, dangerous life she led before she walked into the gentle old minister's church on that rainy Sunday.... Lila is a dark, powerful, uplifting, unforgettable novel." BRYAN WOOLLEY

Kansas City Star ****

"Robinson's prose is precise and simple, and always pleasing to the reader's ear. Couple these qualities with her profound respect for her characters' idiosyncrasies, and you have a novel of uncommon virtuosity and intelligence" KEVIN CANFIELD

NY Times Book Review ****

"Told with measured and absorbing elegance, this account of the growing love and trust between Lila and Reverend Ames is touching and convincing.... In the end, Lila is not so much a novel as a meditation on morality and psychology, compelling in its frankness about its truly shocking subject: the damage to the human personality done by poverty, neglect and abandonment." DIANE JOHNSON

San Francisco Chronicle ****

"Here, Robinson is en fuego: Page after page, she provides just the right narrative pressures to force Lila and Ames into full life as characters, imagining it all as a decidedly bizarre...

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