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Gilead (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel

(Book #1 in the Gilead Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good*

*Best Available: (ex-library)

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Book Overview


Customer Reviews

4 ratings


The author of this book is brilliant. Book has to be read slowly and have your full concentration. We are using this book in a church study group. It is amazing what other people may pick up on and you do not AND ALSO what you remember as compared to the others. This is a great way to read this book. Otherwise, I think you would miss out on a lot - unless, of course, you are as brilliant as the author. Would recommend and give it a five star rating.

"I will tell you some more old stories."

Gilead could be a hard book to read if you are someone nursed on the fast-moving prose of writers like Jonathan Safran Foer or Glen David Gold. Gilead is a generational story that moves at its own relentless pace, but the relentlessness is more about the inevitable passage of time than it is about speed of any kind. Four generation of men and their relationships with God, their father and their sons is the thread at the heart of this lovely little book. Written as a letter from Reverend John Ames to the son of his old age, Gilead treats on subjects as diverse as sectarian difference, the abolitionist movement, heresy and small town Iowa (where the book is set). As befitting the subject, the prose is plain and well-paced. It takes real skill to bring most of this book's busy readers down to the pace of the novel. I read Housekeeping long ago, but I intend to revisit it now again, after having read Gilead. I have some small concerns about the book. Not the least of which is the dissonance with my own small town experience. Not for nothing has Robinson set this a generation or two earlier than most readers. Still, it is hauntingly beautiful in places, and a book that I kept thinking about long after I closed the cover and put it away.


GILEAD is a book that has left me in a bit of a quandary. While I loved the book, I would be hesitant to recommend it to some since it does not conform to today's modern style of writing. This book is written without chapters, in a slowly paced style that requires readers to put themselves in the mindset of John Ames, a preacher in his mid-seventies who is nearing the end of his life. It is a journal of thoughts and memories that is being written to his son. There is no storyline, no plot to follow. It is purely an expression of love from a father to his son. If you are looking for suspenseful plot twists, wacky best friends or humorous scenarios, this is not the book for you. If you simply want to read a stunning work of art, I highly recommend it.

Exquisitely written

I considered Marilynne Robinson's first novel, "Housekeeping" to be one of the most beautifully written books I ever read and had hoped she would write another novel. However, when I learned that her new book was about the minister living in the middle of Iowa in the 1950's, I felt let down. I could not think of a setting in which I would have less interest. Nonetheless, I gave "Gilead" a try. I'm so glad I did. It is another example of what the English language is capable of. The prose is spare, as the subject demands. But it quickly becomes a meditation on how even the simplest life can be touched by grace and wonder. I am not a Christian. In fact, I am an atheist. But this book communicated to me the nurture that can be derived from heartfelt, clear minded, prosaic Christianity. Indeed I can't imagine a more spiritual text. I am not as young as I was when I read "Housekeeping" so I am not "swept away" by literature as I once was. But this lyrical book is on some subtle level, transforming. I understand why Ms. Robinson's quiet prose might not appeal to everyone. But this is truly a first rate work of fiction. I am a harsh critic, but I have no trouble giving this book five stars.

Gilead Mentions in Our Blog

Gilead in Get Free Books for Your Book Club With ShareBookLove
Get Free Books for Your Book Club With ShareBookLove
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 28, 2021

A book club that saves together, stays together! You may already be a part of our ReadingRewards program, but did you know that by inviting your friends (or book club members) to join the program, everyone earns free book credits. Read on to learn more about how it works.

Gilead in 10 Upcoming Books We're Excited to Read And What You Can Read in the Meantime
10 Upcoming Books We're Excited to Read And What You Can Read in the Meantime
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 30, 2020

As the weather starts to turn colder, there’s nothing like curling up with a good book. The list of titles coming out this fall is packed with must-reads. This week we feature ten new and upcoming books, along with suggestions of what you can read first.

Gilead in The Great American Read on PBS
The Great American Read on PBS
Published by Beth Clark • August 03, 2018
The Great American Read is a PBS series that explores and celebrates the power of reading as the core of an ambitious digital, educational, and community outreach campaign designed to get the country reading and passionately talking about books. One hundred books, to be exact, so as promised, here are the next 20!
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