Thursday, January 30, 2014Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
by Marilynne Robinson
The main word that comes to mind with this book is "Quiet." It is peaceful and calm, but somehow as I was rounding the corner into the final third of the novel, I realized how deeply invested I was in the characters. They are sincere and feel so real and the writing is so beautiful that it creeps in and settles around you, making you forget that you don't live in the small Iowa town of Gilead.
“It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. Sometimes they really do struggle with it . . . so I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till you're done, like crying in a way, I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent.”
The book is written as a long letter from an elderly minister to his young son. He knows that his death will come before the boy has a chance to grow up and he wants to leave something for him. He wants to explain his life and decisions to him so that he can understand who his father was, even if he doesn't remember him well.
He lived his whole life in the tiny Midwestern town. He remained while others left and yet he is happy in his life. He has a strong faith, but that doesn't mean he never has questions or things he struggles with in his life. There's one man in the town who has always left him feeling disconcerted. He's felt antagonized by him for years, but truly the man is just trying to find his own peace.
“Christianity is a life, not a doctrine . . . I'm not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you would make honest use of it. I'm saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own."
BOTTOM LINE: I have a feeling this is one of those books that will keep popping up in my mind over the years. Already I find myself thinking about it and mulling over different parts. I would highly recommend reading it when you are in the mood for a lovely quiet novel. There's no major action, it's about people that feel very real and deal with the same issues we all deal with: acceptance, regret, etc.
“These people who can see right through you never quite do you justice, because they never give you credit for the effort you're making to be better than you actually are, which is difficult and well meant and deserving of some little notice.”
“There are two occasions when the sacred beauty of Creation becomes dazzlingly apparent, and they occur together. One is when we feel our mortal insufficiency to the world, and the other is when we feel the world's mortal insufficiency to us.”