” ‘Gilead’, by Marilynne Robinson, had been recommended to me by a number of people. The book is essentially a diary written by a 77 year old Presbyterian pastor, Revd. John Ames, to his seven year old son. It is set in the small Iowan town of Gilead and won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The book combines Ames’ stream of consciousness with words of advice to his son. It also documents Ames’ fear of the son of another pastor in the town, a prodigal named Jack Boughton. Robinson explores Boughton’s story further in her Orange Prize 2009 winning novel, ‘Home’.
‘Gilead’ is a gentle novel which is moving in parts. Nevertheless, I found elements of it difficult to comprehend and on a different wavelength from me. I was glad, however, that I persisted as the ending beautifully describes Ames’ reconciliation with Boughton and his sympathy and understanding of the young man’s plight.
I didn’t enjoy the novel sufficiently to make me want to read ‘Home’ immediately. I think I will try something different first but am mindful to return to Robinson’s writing at a later date.”