Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
National Book Award Finalist
A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead and Housekeeping
Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.
Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church-the only available shelter from the rain-and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security.
Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.
Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Set in the same fictional Iowa town from which her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Gilead takes its name, Marilynne Robinson’s prequel Lila is a beautifully realized story of love and grace. When Lila, a homeless drifter, takes shelter in a church, she crosses paths with John Ames, a Protestant minister and widower. Separated by several years and vastly different life experiences, the two embark on an unlikely romance. In simple but incandescent prose, Robinson weaves together Lila’s past and present to haunting effect.
Robinson's novel, set in the fictional Iowa village of Gilead, trades in stillness and restraint. The challenge for recording an audiobook with this material is capturing its subtlety. There is no large cast of characters, all needing individual voices; there is only a tiny ensemble, anchored by the tormented drifter Lila, a young woman who seems to finally take root when she marries an elderly preacher. Hoffman, an experienced audio narrator, resists the temptation to simplify these rural characters with overdone country accents. The narration is unadorned, allowing Hoffman to direct attention to Robinson's spare prose and the main character's private anguish as Lila sifts through her past. This is a lonely and pensive book, and the wrong narrator could have killed the introspection with showy acting. Instead the performance is fittingly understated, at times seeming lost in thought, its mood as reflective as the novel itself. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover.
Slightly dark and depressing but a good read for the most part. An interesting life, I'm glad to have invested in, discouraging in a way, but understandable. It was always on the verge of breaking through all the negativity and the past, but she never let herself.
A sweet, wonderful book that warms your heart.
Disappointing. Rambling and repetitive. I even skipped a few paragraphs from time to time and I almost never do that. Fortunately it is a short novel. I was glad when it was over.