Read Lila by Marilynne Robinson Maggie Hoffman Online


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 churchthe only available shelter from the rainand ignites a romance and a debate that wiMarilynne 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 churchthe only available shelter from the rainand 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 days of suffering 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. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life is 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 that paradoxically judges those she loves. Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinsons Pulitzer Prizewinning 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....

Title : Lila
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781427259691
Format Type : Audio
Number of Pages : 292 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Lila Reviews

  • Ron Charles
    2019-05-09 09:14

    In 2004, Marilynne Robinson, a legendary teacher at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, returned to novels after a 24-year hiatus and published “Gilead,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Critics Circle Award and a spot on best-of-the-year lists everywhere. It’s hard to imagine those accolades meant much to the Midwestern Calvinist, but four years later she published a companion novel called “Home,” which won the Orange Prize and more enthusiastic praise. And now comes “Lila,” already longlisted for the National Book Award, involving the same few people in Gilead, Iowa, “the kind of town where dogs slept in the road.”These three exquisite books constitute a trilogy on spiritual redemption unlike anything else in American literature. (Our Puritan forefathers wrote and worried plenty about salvation, but they had no use for novels.) In a way that few novelists have attempted and at which fewer have succeeded, Robinson writes about Christian ministers and faith and even theology, and yet her books demand no orthodoxy except a willingness to think deeply about the inscrutable problem of being. Her characters anticipate the glory beyond, but they also know the valley of the shadow of death (and they can name that Psalm, too). In “Home,” the Rev. Robert Boughton struggles to save his wayward son from drinking himself into the ground. In “Gilead,” the Rev. John Ames, with just a few months to live, races to compose a long letter about his life before he’s carried away to imperishability. And in this new novel, we’re finally, fully engaged with Lila, the unlikely young woman who marries Rev. Ames late in life and gives him a son when he feels as old as Abraham.The geography and the cast of characters are mostly familiar, but this time around we’re entering a wholly different spirit. Boughton’s alcoholic son may have been lost, but he knew the terms of perdition and could torment his father and Ames in a language they all spoke. Lila crawls into Gilead from another world altogether, a realm of subsistence living where the speculations of theologians are as far away — and useless — as the stars.The novel opens in a fog of misery. Lila is just 4 or 5, sickly, dressed in rags, when a woman named Doll steals her from her violent home. “Doll may have been the loneliest woman in the world,” Robinson writes, “and she was the loneliest child, and there they were, the two of them together, keeping each other warm in the rain.” They survive by joining up with a tough band of migrants looking for work as the country slides further into the Depression. It’s a vision of failing America somewhere between “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Road” — poverty grinding away every element of pride until the group fractures under the strain. Robinson has constructed this novel in a graceful swirl of time, constantly moving back to Lila and Doll’s struggles with starvation, desperate thieves and vengeful relatives. We see that dark past only intermittently, as a child’s clear but fragmentary memories or a trauma victim’s flashbacks.In the novel’s present, Lila, now an adult, almost feral with fear and apprehension, wanders into Ames’s church. In that moment, the old pastor dares to imagine he might be allowed to fall in love again. But Lila is not easily or quickly drawn away from the life she knew. “Happiness was strange to her,” Robinson writes. “When you’re scalded, touch hurts, it makes no difference if it’s kindly meant.”This may be the most tentative, formal and charming romance you’ll ever encounter. Ames, who assumed his years of loneliness would never end, floats off the ground in a state of anxious delight, always preparing himself for the day when Lila will run back out of his life. And everything about the reverend baffles her. “You’re just the strangest man,” she tells him when she knows she’s “horribly in love.” There seems no end to his concerns, his senseless courtesies. “He always helped her with her chair,” she thinks, “which amounted to pulling it out from the table a little, then pushing it in again after she sat down. Who in the world could need help with a chair?” He and his friends talk about people she doesn’t know and things she doesn’t understand. His constant allusions to the Bible — that old book — mean nothing to her. She can’t get over how enthusiastically his congregation sings “songs to somebody who had lived and died like anybody else.”And yet she considers the reverend’s theological arguments with dead seriousness. Robinson, for all her philosophical brilliance, captures clearly and without a trace of condescension the mind of an uneducated woman struggling to comprehend why things happen, what our lives mean. “She knew a little bit about existence,” Robinson writes in this miraculous voice that somehow blends with Lila’s. “That was pretty well the only thing she knew about, and she had learned the word for it from him.” Lila doesn’t have the luxury of speculating about the possibility of hell; she’s lived there. “She had thought a thousand times about the ferociousness of things so that it might not surprise her entirely when it showed itself again.” The Bible is a revelation to her — though not in the way it is to her husband: “She never expected to find so many things she already knew about written down in a book.” The images of desolation and abandonment in Ezekiel don’t sound to her like history or metaphor — they sound like yesterday. Job could easily have been someone she knew on the road. When Boughton refers to the elect and the damned, Lila fears she may never see Doll again, and wonders if heaven is worth that sacrifice. How is it, she wonders, that these men can worship a God willing to send so many fine people to hell?“You ask such interesting questions,” Ames says.“And you don’t answer ‘em,” Lila shoots back. She’s been trained by years of violence and hardship not to trust anyone, but “he was beautiful, gentle and solid, his voice so mild when he spoke, his hair so silvery white.” Can she, dare she, give up the clarity of her old life for this gracious man who loves her past all reason? She knows it’ll only be a matter of time before she shocks “all the sweetness right out of him.”“Are we getting married, or not?” Ames asks her early in the novel.“If you want to, it’s all right with me, I suppose. But I can’t see how it’s going to work,” Lila says. “I can’t stay nowhere. I can’t get a minute of rest.”“Well, if that’s how it is, I guess you’d better put your head on my shoulder.”For all the despair and trauma that haunt Lila, her story is one of unimaginable, sudden good fortune that only her husband’s patience can coax her into accepting. “I can’t love you as much as I love you,” Lila says with a paradox worthy of St. Paul. “I can’t feel as happy as I am.” Both of these unlikely lovers have suffered enough “to know that this is grace.”Anyone reading this novel will know that, too.This review first appeared in The Washington Post:

  • Candi
    2019-04-25 12:23

    "Doll may have been the loneliest woman in the world, and she was the loneliest child, and there they were, the two of them together, keeping each other warm in the rain."Lila understands what it means to be lonely. She knows what it means to connect with another human soul to overcome that utter loneliness. Lila takes us on her journey and it is one of beauty and understanding and developing faith, not just in God but in the human spirit itself. Despite hardship and neglect, can a person truly learn to trust another? Ultimately, this is what the heart yearns for and what Lila seeks throughout her life. Lila, born into poverty and neglect, is rescued and raised by an older woman named Doll. It becomes necessary to their survival to lead a life wandering from one place to the next in order to avoid detection. Doll is determined to protect Lila from those that had failed to provide her with the most basic of human needs, including love. The two attach themselves to a band of drifters and lead a harsh life, but one that allows them to form a bond that will always remain within Lila’s heart long after she must strike out on her own. Alone in the world, Lila searches for an identity, she longs for that human connection that sustains her, sustains all of us. Drifting into the small mid-western town of Gilead, the town we encountered in the book of that same title, Lila decides to settle for a bit. "… she wanted to stay in one place for a while. The loneliness was bad, but it was better than anything else she could think of. It was probably the loneliness that made her walk the mile or so into town every few days just to look at the houses and stores and the flower gardens. She never meant to talk to anybody." Then one day while in town, Lila seeks shelter from the rain and enters the church. Thus begins one of the most beautiful human connections in literature as Lila meets the Reverend John Ames. Lila is full of mistrust towards others. John Ames is gentle and patient and full of wisdom – wisdom that he doesn’t preach but quietly shares with humility and after much contemplation. He makes no demands. John is not a stranger to loneliness himself and Lila’s recognizes this. "He looked as if he’d had his share of loneliness, and that was all right. It was one thing she understood about him. She liked his voice. She liked the way he stood next to her as if there was a pleasure for him in it." Lila, not formally educated, but with her own brand of intellect based on experience, reasoning and inquisitiveness, will develop a spiritual rapport with John that is moving and simply powerful. This novel, published after Gilead, is set in a time prior to the events occurring in that outstanding work of fiction. While Gilead was told from John’s point of view, Lila is a third person narrative which focuses on Lila’s life. It highlights her own perspective of those events leading up to the time she meets John and their early life together. The story is told with a stream of consciousness feel to it that alternates between past and present. Robinson draws a portrait of Lila that illustrates her past struggles and how these juxtapose with her current attempts to overcome loneliness and mistrust. This is not an easy battle for Lila and we, along with John, are witness to her lapses back to the familiar and painful feelings. "The problem is, she thought, that if someday she opened the front door and there, where the flower gardens and the fence and the gate ought to be, was that old life, the raggedy meadows and pastures and the cornfields and the orchards, she might just set the child on her hip and walk out into it, the buzz and the smell and the damp of it, the breath of it like her own breath, her own sweat. Stepping back into the loneliness, a dreadful thing, like walking into cold water, waiting for the numbness to set in that was the body taking the care it could, so that what you knew you didn’t have to feel."After much reflection, I really must change my rating to 5 stars. This book and the entire trilogy, including Gilead and Home, are definitely worthy of that rating. Highly recommended.

  • Fionnuala
    2019-05-11 14:25

    What would it be like to have limited vocabulary with which to phrase our thoughts? Would we then have limited thoughts? Or would our thoughts instead be clearer for the lack of words to muddy them?Such are the questions that occur to us as we read this account of a homeless woman called Lila, a woman without a surname or knowledge of what country she lives in - except that it’s good country for growing crops - but who knows perfectly her place in the world nevertheless. A woman unaware of the existence of the concept ‘existence’ but who still knows more than most about staying alive against the odds, about facing death with equanimity.At the beginning of this book, Lila’s former life of wandering is over. It has come to an end because she stepped inside a church one day to shelter from the rain. The seeking of shelter leads to her choosing a settled life with a man who is particularly full of thoughts and words, thoughts and words being the tools of his trade. John Ames is the elderly pastor of Gilead and he’s a character whom readers of some of Marilynne Robinson’s other books already know. We had already met Lila too but only as a shadowy presence on the edge of every scene in those books. Her former life was hinted at but Robinson cleverly left much of Lila’s story a complete mystery; she clearly had plans for Lila from the beginning.The earlier books each presented different facets of John Ames’ character. In Gilead, which is written in the form of a letter from Ames to his and Lila’s young son we get to know Ames through his memories of his father and grandfather and his own youth and life. The picture that emerges is of a mostly thoughtful and kind man, very committed to his faith, but we remember that this is a first person narrative and we know not to completely trust his account of everything.In Home, we see Ames among his parishioners and friends, in particular the Baughton family who live next door. Home is a third person narrative, mostly from the point of view of Glory, Robert Boughton’s daughter, who cares for her elderly father (this is Mid West America sometime in the 1950s). As we see Ames mingle with the various members of his friend Robert’s large family, we discover different aspects of his personality. In Lila, the other characters fade from the picture and we get a completely fresh angle on John Ames. In the course of this book, the man who has spent his life writing and preaching sermons, advising others how to think and speak, has to learn how to think and speak himself all over again. To understand Lila and to be understood by her, everything he believes in, the way he phrased what he thought he knew, has to be reexamined. It’s rare for me to be truly moved by the words I read. I enjoy words tremendously, I look under them and over them and through them but they rarely cause my eyes to well up with tears. Although Robinson carefully avoids any attempt to trade on the emotional content of her story, the hesitant words that Lila and John Ames exchange as they seek to understand the meaning of the other’s almost unknowable existence moved me intensely.What Robinson has done here is deeply, deeply interesting - not the creation of a love story between a young woman and an elderly man - but the examination from scratch of the meaning of life.

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2019-05-18 12:21

    This is my third read of Marilynne Robinson and as always a wonderful one. I inadvertently skipped the 2nd volume of the Gilead trilogy (I'll read Home soon) because the American Library had Lola on the shelf. Sort of a deep dive into the Reverend Ames' wife introduced in Gilead, Lila's story is one of profound pain and suffering and, thankfully, redemption. The book takes place as she becomes pregnant with the Reverend's child as she looks back in a sort of stream of conscience on her life and wonders whether she deserves a happy ending. As with all of Robinson's writing, the prose is exquisite and highly figurative. Both the Reverend and Lila struggle with the meaning of evil and pain in the world as Lila teaches herself to read using the "easy" books of Ezekiel and Job. Her childhood having been literally stole from her by the mysterious Doll is recounted drip by drip throughout the book. I felt it dragged a little in the middle. Well, put another way, it was sort of a one movement symphony (there are no chapter headings): it starts out in an adagio rythme in a minor key and slows to a lentissimo but about 3/4 of the way in, the pace picks up and the chords change to major keys, sort of like in Beethoven's 6th in the last movement, cumulating in Lola's acceptance of her past and her love for the baby and the Reverend.Lila is always associated with nature, having lived off the land (and her own body) in her survival. Here the orchestra rises towards the denouement."Lila was glad to be seeing the country again, the fields looking so green in the evening light. Knee-high by the Fourth of July. So it must be June. Every farmhouse in a cloud of trees. There is a way the trees stir before a rain, as if they already felt the heaviness." (P. 213)Here she is running away, but also symbolically coming home on her arc towards Gilead.Later, Lila and the Reverend discuss his Sunday sermon in some of the best Robinson prose I have read so far:"Life on earth is difficult and grave, and marvelous. Our experience is fragmentary. Its parts don't add up. They don't even belong in the same calculation." (P. 223)Lila: "Near as I can tell, you were wanting to reconcile things by saying they can't be reconciled." (P. 224)Herein lies perhaps the core of Lila, some things in life are beyond human comprehension, beyond a religious explanation or humanistic reason. They are just so. To live life with a modicum of sanity and happiness, this must be accepted uncomplainingly and definitively. Just two pages later, Lila is able to say "I love you" to the Reverend in her own unique way:"'No', she said. 'I'm going to have just one husband.' One was more than she'd expected. 'Well, you know, that's good of you to say, but it's not always good to make promises. There can be a lot involved in keeping them than there seems at the time.'She said, 'That's not a promise. It's just a fact.'He laughed, 'Even better.'" (P. 226)This understated dialog is typical and sparing yet beautiful and about the most sincere that there two lonely people will be able to express themselves to each other.Besides this tear-soaked ending (but warm tears of love and reconciliation, not cold tears of regret), the book also helped me appreciate a few things about how central the church was back in those rural times (the period is never stated but I believe it is between the wars since Lila talks about the Crash). The church was where people experienced music, where they held social events, where they sought answers to their existence long before TV, Twitter and YouTube. And yet, these churchgoers were the same hard working men that came to see Lila in the bordel in Saint Louis (or others like them). This moral ambiguity is a cornerstone of Robinson's depictions of Gilead.Lila was a wonderful read and I look forward to reading Home now which I finally got from the library last week!

  • Elyse
    2019-05-17 12:36

    It's 4:30am... I lost a lot of sleep-but just finished the last of this series--a life transforming experience. What to say about Lila? A wild child? Perhaps --but unfortunately-and fortunately I think there are many 'Lila's' in this world. I related to her in many ways myself.The writing once again blew me away - especially fit the emotional key of perfect pitch for me on several occasions. This one small sentence alone is one that brought me to real tears: "Fear and comfort could be the same". - For me to explain that might take a lifetime. I loved this book - I loved all the books - don't ask me to pick a favorite- I just don't want to. I could justify reasons for 'favorites' for each one. I absolutely loved John Ames- the old preacher - again - in this novel!!!!! One of the most beautiful moments in this story was when he gave Lila a private baptism out in the sunshine-( he was so tender and sweet)- they walked through a meadow of daisies and sunflowers to pick black raspberries. When he spread his white handkerchief out to put those berries in -and the purple bled through the cloth -- I swear I could smell the fragrance. AS I WRITE THIS... tears come to my eyes.... I'm sad this series is over!!!Marilynne Robinson is a phenomenal writer!!!!!! I had no idea. I feel blessed as can be for having read her books!!!! "If the world had a soul --that was it--wandering through it. Never knowing anything different or wanting anything more".Ha.... and this took less than 5 minutes to write this review- so it can be done! LolMuch love to my friends!!!!! GREAT SERIES!!!!

  • Dolors
    2019-05-18 13:36

    The last book in the Gilead trilogy, and the most unconventional because of the choosing of an outcast as a protagonist. Lila is an orphan, hard-edged, uneducated, a creature that survived the rough conditions of her first years against all odds. Shielded by Doll, the enigmatic woman who saved her life as a baby, Lila pushes through in Dickensian conditions; hunger, loneliness and all kind of picaresque penuries paint her unusual story reminding the reader of the most celebrated works by Steinbeck where a constant drip of nomads sprinkled the countryside trying to escape the Great Depression. Lila can’t be defined by social standards; she is a free spirit, a wanderer not bound by the restrictions of propriety or language, she is guided by instinct and mistrust and knows very little of the rituals in communities. So when she appears in John Ames’ church in Gilead on a Sunday morning, wrenched and freezing, it seems exceedingly improbable that the two might bond. And yet they do. This is the magic of this novel; the quiet conversations that transpire between these two essentially different individuals, a religious, highly educated old man and an illiterate young woman whose wisdom comes from the wilderness, the dusty prairies and gushing rivers.Little by little, and avoiding any inkling of romanticism, Lila and Ames knit a complex tapestry of philosophical meditations on guilt, redemption, existence, and love.Even though Lila and Ames had been extremely lonely and locked in themselves in their own way for years when they finally meet, the ability to withstand solitude is precisely what manages to keep them together. Lila embraces Ames’ world and his faith and is therefore “saved”, but she continues fantasizing about the uncertainty of living day to day in the margins of society with no shelter and only the sky and the stars as witnesses to her mute thoughts. I did admire her for remaining her true self in spite of the immersion into Ames' spritual vision.That is the image I want to preserve of this final instalment. Lila’s earthly hymn to geraniums and violets that bloom in the countryside; her clean, plain face washed off misdirected self-punishment, finally learning to trust, finally daring to hope.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-05-11 16:27

    Onvan : Lila (Gilead, #3) - Nevisande : Marilynne Robinson - ISBN : 374187614 - ISBN13 : 9780374187613 - Dar 261 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2014

  • Dem
    2019-05-14 17:41

    2.5 starsThis book is written with the most beautiful and elegant prose and for the first few few pages I really was enjoying the book but sadly the structure of the novel didn't work for me.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 and widower, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering that preceded her newfound security.Firstly I listened to this book on audio and while the narrator was excellent I found the writing style very repetitive and laboured. The story is told from different perspectives and I found it difficult to follow and the flow too interrupted. There is a very strong religious theme in this novel and it certainly belonged in the stroy but I found it a little much at times and again I think if I had read the book I would have understood it more and perhaps enjoyed it better. I was going to switch to paper format halfways through the stroy but did not love the subject matter enough to purchase another book. I did finish the novel and was glad I struck with it becausethe prose is beautiful and poetic but for me this one just didn't float my boat. This book has great reviews and I am certainly singing from a different hymn sheet on this one.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-24 13:41

    There is something about the character Lila that I connected to in a big way. How she came to Gilead and married to a preacher is a story that is both poignant and life confirming. She is such a diverse character, wise yet naïve, suspicious yet giving, always thinking and searching for answers.Reading about her young life, her life as a traveler, going wherever Doll, the woman who took her, needed to go in order to find work. Loved the character of Doll, the wise old woman who had such a tough life yet took a little girl in order to save and protect her. Such hard lives, especially during the depression when all work literally dried up, leaving little recourse for, those who lived on the road, going from place to place. Eventually Lila would find her way alone to Gilead, with a past she didn't want to speak of, but thought of often. She would find comfort sitting in the church and would find her way to the scriptures, looking for a reason for her own existence.Loved this story, the writing and descriptions are just beautiful and serve to balance the sometimes ugliness of Lila's journey. I read Gilead a while ago and now want to re-read as I feel after reading this novel I will have a different perspective.

  • Violet wells
    2019-05-23 15:12

    Rather like Gilead, I found this an uneven book. The first seventy or so pages are absolutely ravishing – beautiful writing, a compelling story and a real sense the author has embarked on a lucid visionary quest. However, then the story lost most of its drive and the theme became a little monosyllabic. Lila, the feral orphan child searching for identity and a sense of belonging, acquires her grace a little too easily, not surprising as throughout she’s surrounded by idealised characters. There’s no evil in Robinson’s landscape, not even of the petty variety which can so try one’s patience and faith. In this sense it’s more of a fable than a novel with archetypes replacing believable human beings. At times I couldn’t help wishing Toni Morrison had written this novel. No one, after all, is better than her at giving the inarticulate an eloquent poetic voice. In Robinson’s hands the embittering experiences of Lila’s youth remain largely cosmetic. The struggle to overcome them no more difficult really than weeding a neglected garden. It’s a heartwarming vision. No doubt about that. And maybe, if you bumped into someone as wholeheartedly benevolent and generous as Lila’s husband such a happy ending might be possible. Gilead, for me, was charged with dramatic tension by the appearance of wanton malevolence into the narrative; Lila, on the other hand, has only her own demons to oppose and they are eliminated with the predictability of ogres falling in fairy stories. The message perhaps take too much precedence over dramatic tension. It is a lovely hopeful message though.

  • Sara
    2019-05-02 12:40

    Some works of fiction are wonderful. They make us laugh, cry, sing. We love their style, their plot, their characters. But, occasionally, a work of fiction steps beyond that and becomes important. It tells us something; something we know but cannot express. It informs us about the human condition, the human spirit, the things that make existence, life itself, worthwhile and meaningful. This is one of those novels. It is one of three, which taken in their totality, are the stuff that true enduring classics are made of.Lila is written in the same kind of stream of consciousness style that we encounter in Gilead. It is Lila’s view of the events that John has already told us about, but expanded and tempered by the addition of Lila’s background story and her own inward tumult. Here is loneliness, in its most cavernous garb, imposed by life experience and then self-imposed for self-protection. Here is longing and loving and fear and need and fright and tenderness and thanksgiving and disbelief and grief and, surely, grace.How can anyone wade in these waters and not come out baptized in the knowledge of what it is to be human? How can Robinson touch on nerves so raw and still show us that there is good in every person if you stop to find it? What if the person who understands life the best is the one who has suffered the most and been offered the least? And, what if things that look horrible on the outside spring from the sweetest of intentions and motivations, or the fate of every individual is tied up in being seen by someone else, when you are invisible to the rest of the world? If these are not the books to read at this time of civil misunderstanding, I cannot think what books would be. This is a portrait of what it is to be the dispossessed and forgotten and what it is to look beneath the surface and discover that we are all fashioned of the same blood and tissue and fear and need.I will be digesting this book and its brothers for a long, long time. I will re-read them soon, because there is no way that you can read them once and absorb everything there is in them that matters. The Pulitzer doesn’t always get it right, but Marilynne Robinson is a writer of such caliber that I cannot doubt they got it right when they handed the prize to her. Goodreads will only let me give these books 5-stars, but they are, for me, what Milton and Pope and Shakespeare are--they are books that will not wear out with time and will have something important to say hundreds of years later.

  • Angela M
    2019-05-20 15:39

    I read this in Nov , 2014 and somehow managed to delete my review . This is a reposting .When I read a book like this I am reminded of why I choose to spend so much of my time reading . This book has characters that I want to know , a story that made my heart ache and yet lifted my spirit at the same time and writing that is just so good that I didn't want the last page to be the last page.What struck me about Lila was the sadness , the loneliness , the lack of a sense of belonging and her inability to trust anyone. This is surely understandable given Lila's early childhood of neglect and life drifting on the road with Doll who saves her from that house where she was neglected . The pair travel with a group of others moving from place to place trying to get by . Through flashbacks we learn Lila's story and where she had been and what has happened to her in the years before she came to Gilead .I loved her inquisitiveness , her desire to learn and the big life questions she asks . Practicing her writing and reading from the bible - Ezekiel and Job and asking questions that have no pat answers make for some poignant moments .Yes John Ames is a preacher and they discuss the bible and God but I didn't feel preached to . On one level one could focus on the theology but for me it was just about the basic yet profound questions that Lila asks such as why things happen as they do , questions about existence. I loved John Ames and his quiet ways and how he cared about and for Lila. He too has suffered sadness and loneliness for years .This for me was a love story . It is beautifully written and about more than their spirituality , religion , belief in being saved and the afterlife , it is about their humanity .

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-05-13 12:22

    Lila (Gilead, #3), Marilynne Robinsonعنوان: لی لا؛ نویسنده: مریلین رابینسون؛ مترجم: مرجان محمدی؛ تهران، نشر قطره، 1394؛ در 345 ص؛ شابک: 9786001198625؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - قرن 20 ممرجان محمدی مترجم این اثر در گفتگو با خبرنگار مهر درباره ی این رمان اظهار داشت: «لی‌لا» به عنوان جدیدترین و آخرین اثر داستانی منتشر شده از مرلین رابینسون که دو سال قبل به زبان اصلی منتشر شده، یک سال گذشته را در تدارک انتشار ترجمه آن در ایران بودم، که از سوی نشر قطره میسر شد. ایشان ادامه دادند: شخصیت‌های سه‌ گانه ی داستانی رابینسون، یعنی: «خانه»، «گیلیاد» و «لی‌لا»، با یکدیگر دارای ارتباط هستند؛ و زندگی آنها در کنار یکدیگر تعریف شده است. در رمان گیلیاد، خوانشگر با یک کشیش مواجه است که در سن میانسالی و بسیار دیر ازدواج کرده، و در شهری خیالی به نام گیلیاد ساکن است، و برای پسرش نامه می‌نویسد. در ‌لی‌لا؛ روایت زندگی همسر همین کشیش بازگو می‌شود؛ از کودکی و سختی‌های بزرگ شدنش در طول زمان تا آشنایی و ازدواجش با کشیش. این مترجم افزودند: رمان‌های مرلین رابینسون، در زمره ی آثار پرهیجان نیست، بلکه باید آنها را نوعی اثر معنوی دانست؛ که سعی دارد در جملاتش پیام‌های مشخصی را تعریف کند. از سوی دیگر ایشان در کتاب‌هایش از پیام‌ها و متن کتاب مقدس بهره ی بسیاری برده است، و در رمان لی‌لا نیز شاهدیم که او به انجیل، به صورت مستقیم اشاره دارد؛ و در رمان « خانه » نیز، ایشان به رابطه ی پدر و پسری حضرت ابراهیم و اسماعیل اشاره می‌کند. در رمان آخر خویش نیز به مساله ی کالوینیسم در آمریکا اعتراض دارد و سعی دارد، مساله را تغییر دهد. پایان نقلا. شربیانی

  • Mandy
    2019-05-14 15:37

    I’ve tried and I’ve tried with Marilynne Robinson. I really have. Each time I pick up one of her books I optimistically feel a surge of hope that THIS time I will get it, THIS time I will understand what everyone else raves about, THIS time I will see the light. But no, yet again I am left bemused as to why she is such an acclaimed writer, and yet again I struggle to continue reading. So I won’t attempt a proper review of her latest novel, which is, like her others, being welcomed as another masterpiece by her devoted readership, and just say that I don’t enjoy her writing, I don’t feel empathy for her characters, and I sadly have to accept that Robinson and I just aren’t fated to get on.

  • Lynne King
    2019-05-10 15:18

    This novel is written by a woman who is working at the height of her intellectual and literary powers. I do believe that she is unsurpassed in this novel and that this book, as already mentioned by a reviewer, will prove to be an American classic.Apart from the excellent structure and the mesmerizing prose, religious and spiritual leitmotifs, such as grace, old man, the colour red, and the four elements permeate the text. The word "grace" in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation, mean something as broad as describing the whole of God's activity toward man or as narrow as describing one segment of that activity. An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favour of God toward man. But the most remarkable aspect is the skilful way in which the past (Lila’s life with the scarred Doll) and the present (her life with the widower, Reverend John Ames) coalesce and form intricate layers throughout this work.Can you imagine an unnamed, neglected child aged about four or five with rickety legs, thus having difficulty walking, and then tossed out onto the stoop at night by those supposedly taking care of her? Luck however comes the child’s way with Doll, who cleans around the cabin, and hated by the child, and decides on the spur of the moment to steal the toddler. So off they go; the child’s only regret being that she doesn’t have her rag doll with her.The first night they stay with an old woman who decides the child should have a name:I been thinking about ‘Lila’. I had a sister Lila. Give her a pretty name, maybe she could turn out pretty.Doll never does know why she stole the child and this would remain their secret throughout their itinerant life of many years. Doll and Lila fall in with Doane, a proud man, good at finding work, and feeding his family. These are good and bad times and they are even paid with apples one time which the children sell. Nevertheless, it was a lifestyle for Lila and she doesn’t know any better. In all it is a relatively safe haven with Doane and his family, where Doll and Lila become known as the cow and calf.Doll then decides, wisely, that Lila needs an education and so at the age of twelve she goes to school to learn to read and write. The child is so badly informed about life that she doesn’t even know where she lives in the world, only that it is in the United States of America. But a year later, Doll is on the move again. She’s aware, as she knew would inevitably happen, that people will come looking for Lila. Thus, she carries a knife that she is constantly sharpening and advises Lila to ensure that she never cuts anyone as there could be problems. Indeed, Doll’s fall from grace is rather spectacular and very colourful too.After meeting the preacher at the church for the first time, Lila is aware that he’s looking at her but he actually “sees” her and in fact inevitably soon will “know” her in the biblical sense and I think he realizes at this stage that she will play an important part in his life. Lila starts finding work from people in Gilead and even plants vegetables in the preacher’s garden and tends the roses on his first wife’s and child’s grave. It seems right to Lila to do this. She is drawn to the preacher in an odd way and cannot understand it.Lila doesn’t wish to complain about her life before she meets the preacher, otherwise referred to as the old man. The paradox is that when she marries Rev. Ames and has a comfortable life, she still thinks of the abandoned shack that she stayed in when she first came to Gilead as she feels she is her own person, even though she’s lonely.I have never before come across a character in a novel with whom I could empathize with so totally as Lila. She mistrusts people, even the preacher, often tells him so, even tries to annoy him; in fact she cannot bring herself to say “thank you” and I feel that she even isn’t truly aware she loves John Ames until she is baptized by him.There is very little description about Lila. We know that she doesn’t like to look at her own face, whereas there is more about the preacher. He’s an old man, with silver hair, a beautiful voice, to whom prayer is important and he’s gentle and caring with everyone; he also laughs which I found endearing. He takes nothing for granted and the fact that he loves Lila is a continual joy for him; it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry. He prays for her past and realizes her need to keep the knife as it was part of her history. The pair of them are matched in loneliness which, to their own amazement, turns into love.Lila delights in touching Ames, to enjoy when he helps her on with her coat, his caring way with her, and the way that he looks at her. He still blushes from time to time. She steals his sweater as she wants to be reminded of him. She tells him that he ought to marry her, even surprising herself, and he’s more than happy to agree. On their wedding night she slips quite naturally into bed with him. She does wonder though whether she can become pregnant but this all seems to be part of her learning process. Nevertheless, she always needs to know that she can leave whenever she wants to, and through work by helping people in Gilead, she saves enough money to buy a bus ticket. This was her escape clause and she needs it, married or not.Lila knows so little about life and is still learning (as I am) and then she steals a pew bible from the church (I feel to actually annoy the preacher), purchases a tablet and pencil and begins to read it. She was rather taken with Ezekiel and rewrote sections ten or so times.I’m not really religious. My father was an atheist and didn’t attend my baptism. My mother, of course, had to go. As a result, I didn’t go to Sunday school and was not confirmed. But interestingly enough I loved Religious Instruction whilst at school and I continue to find the bible, especially the Old Testament, a literary masterpiece. There is nothing more enjoyable than browsing through the various Books and Ezekiel happens to be my favourite. So when I came across Ezekiel in the following text, I was enchanted:And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle.Lila is also compassionate as seen when she revisits the shack and finds that someone has been living there. She reminds me of Ruth here from the Old Testament. She also discovers her money has been taken from under the floorboard. When the current occupant, a boy, turns up and tells his sorrowful tale, his belief that he has killed his father and finally admits to finding the money, Lila tells him to keep it but he wants to return half to her. Then circumstances get quite out of control, through the intervention of her husband, as he was worried about her, and his old friend, Rev. Robert Boughton.Such beauty studs this remarkable literary work even when Lila is working in the whore house in St Louis when unfortunate circumstances with Doll force her to leave, resulting in Lila finally ending up in Gilead. She is indeed touched by the hand of grace upon arrival there.I’m so taken with this book I’m having difficulty expressing myself, as Lila also finds. So in conclusion, I can only add that this is the most beautiful and yet haunting novel that I have read for a very long time; the descriptions are excellent and poetic; a mesmerizing tour de force. I cannot stop thinking about the words, their sheer beauty.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-30 10:22

    Have you ever read a book that was so good it hurt? Marilynne Robinson knows how to touch deep places. Simply beautiful. If you are new to her stories, I would recommend that you read Gilead and Home first. It deepens the appreciation for Lila. The other day it occurred to me that reading Robinson's novels feels similar to reading Willa Cather. They both have a talent for saying important things in understated, familiar ways that make you really FEEL the truth of them. In this book, Lila herself is reading the biblical book of Ezekiel, surprised at how this wild, dangerous poetry rings so true to her. She just "knows" the truth of it. That's how I feel, exactly, reading Robinson's trilogy. It is hard to explain how very true it feels. Her stories (including Lila) are haunting, beautiful, and thoughtful... but not always and altogether "happy." Still, they make you glad to be alive, miraculously living right where you are, among all the other miraculous people in the world.

  • Roger Brunyate
    2019-05-03 09:13

    Gilead, Home, and the Undertow of TransienceSo Marilynne Robinson returns once more to the small Iowa town immortalized in her Pulitzer Prizewinning novel Gilead; is there really enough material there for three books? When Home, the second novel, came out, my answer was almost but not quite. Now with Lila, I have no doubt. This is every bit as rich and self-contained a book as either of its predecessors, a deeply moving meditation on life, love, and God. It is the simplest of the three novels, and the earliest in time, essentially the story of how the elderly preacher John Ames meets and marries his second wife, a former drifter who goes by the name of Lila. But it is also the most complex, weaving past and present, thought and action, together into a multi-layered texture that reminds me strongly of Faulkner—another writer who mined riches from the lives of a few families in a restricted rural location. It is a work of heartbreaking beauty.We meet Lila as a very young child, stolen from a house where she has been neglected and left to die. Her rescuer is a drifter named Doll. She nurses the girl back to health, and joins a small group of other transients, living by doing odd jobs until the Depression and the Dust Bowl force them to split up. At one point, Doll stays put for long enough for Lila to get a year of schooling. It is enough to teach her to read and do arithmetic; she is a very bright student. Somehow, parted from Doll, Lila ends up in Gilead, living in a deserted shack outside the town, and offering gardening and household help to meet her small needs. Before long, she has met John Ames, one of the town's two preachers, an elderly widower. When she calls on him one morning, he offers her coffee, and asks her to tell him a little about herself:She shook her head. "I don't talk about that. I just been wondering lately why things happen the way they do.""Oh!" he said. "Then I'm glad you have some time to spare. I've been wondering about that more or less my whole life."Lila's question and Ames' attempt to answer it form the theological mainspring of the book. For in addition to being a story of two lonely people coming together, this is also a book about religious belief, more explicitly so than either of its predecessors. Those who have read Gilead (though that is not necessary*) will know what a beautiful character John Ames is: a man of God, but a modest and above all a kind one. Christianity is in his bones and blood, and yet there is nothing doctrinaire about him; he talks to God, but has no time for Hell; his is a religion of welcome, never exclusion. His world is an extremely attractive one for me, as a former believer who remains interested in religion's attempts to answer the big questions, but utterly resists signing up for any faith.I should say, however, that this is far from theology for the masses. The books in her stolen Bible that Lila copies out to improve her handwriting, and ponders as she does so, are among the most difficult ones, Ezekiel and Job. "It could be that the wildest, strangest things in the Bible," she thinks, "were the places where it touched earth." Without fully understanding them, Lila is attracted to the verses in Ezekiel about the lightning and the whirlwind, or the babe abandoned in the field, weltering in its blood. Ames too tries to make the Bible touch earth: in affirming its relevance to his own life, explaining it to Lila, respecting the wild thing that she is, and building trust and tenderness between them.Marilynne Robinson's 1980 novel Housekeeping, written almost a quarter-century before her next one, Gilead, is also about drifters. Its back cover contains a phrase that has long stuck with me, "The dangerous undertow of transience." I am struck by how Robinson's themes keep folding back on each other: transience, Gilead, home. I had always thought of home as a place to settle, a place to build, and place that you would never have to leave again. But in Lila, Robinson shows that the undertow of transience is always present, too. Even after they are married, Lila is not fully ready to settle with Ames, and he also accepts that she is liable to go off at any moment. This is where the influence of Faulkner comes in. It is not simply a matter of present-day narrative and flashbacks. Past and present are folded together inextricably, each growing within the other. At all times, Lila carries with her the memories of where she has been, what she has suffered, and the people she has loved. Gradually, we learn more about her, and come to revise our estimates of her age, background, and character. She is no angel, and has been through more than we ever knew. But we come to see her as truly a good person, and Ames' love becomes in turn our own.A small example. After Lila has given birth to the young son whom we will glimpse in Gilead, Ames decides to take him fishing. Lila imagines telling the story to him once he is old enough to understand:He had his pole and creel in his hand and you in the crook of his arm and he went off down the road in the morning sunshine, striding along like a younger man, talking to you, laughing. He came back an hour later. He set the empty creel on the table and said, "We propped the pole and watched dragonflies. Then we got a little tired." And what a look he gave her, in the sorrow of his happiness.With countless scenes like that, Marilynne Robinson offers her readers a radiant gift. And that final phrase is sheer genius.======*I would go further and urge that you read Lila first, if you have not read Gilead. Otherwise, read this as though it were first. This counteracts the tendency to see the book as merely the back-story of a character being groomed for a minor role in the more famous novel, and Lila can appear as the wild force that she is, as protagonist in her own right.

  • Cathrine ☯️
    2019-05-13 09:28

    3★My fourth Marilynne Robinson book, and though I’m a fan, my least favorite in the Gilead series. Halfway through I stop and read some lovely reviews that do it the justice it no doubt deserves and make me feel like a completely inadequate reader not up to the task of appreciation. I feel detached and somewhat bored at points. The structure bothers me. No chapters, just pages that keep going with past events against the current ones in protagonist Lila’s story. I feel the need to stop and ponder, but do not know when or if I should, except at the designated few and far between break points. I feel there should be more of them but the narrative just keeps going and changes directions like my mind when it keeps running and won’t shut off, as if there won’t be another day or time to take up thinking again. Lila’s story is heartbreaking yet fascinating from my modern point of view but unfolds in a similar manner to the way my grandparents and parents communicated. They used the Less Is More approach and rarely showed emotions. Like Lila, they were stoic with strong work ethics and kept their secrets close. I know more about her than I do about all of them combined. These paragraphs form a hymn of sorts to them and their kind. With the author’s gift of prose there is truth and beauty in the telling yet there is a disconnect for me. Postscript.I wrote my thoughts above at that halfway point mentioned above then later finished reading. I think Lila’s personality reflects my family matriarchs and influenced my reception to this. The literary blessings that Robinson usually bestows on me just never materialized.

  • Claudia
    2019-05-22 15:41

    Vorab: Sorry, wenn ich einigen GR-Freunden auf die Füße trete. Nicht persönlich nehmen!Lila ist authentisch. Sie nötigt mir Respekt ab. Sie hatte ein hartes Leben als Wanderabeiterin und hat alles verloren, was es zu verlieren gibt - außer ihrem Stolz.Ungebildet, traumatisiert, menschenscheu stellt sie existentielle Fragen, die ihren Ehemann, einen Prediger, in Verlegenheit bringen. Der Reverend ist ein so herzensguter Mensch, wie ihn die Welt noch nicht gesehen hat. Ohne Ecken und Kanten, hilfreich und gut, für jede Gelegenheit einen Bibelspruch parat. Seine Frau trägt er natürlich auf Händen. Sie wird von ihm getauft, geschwängert und verspricht, dass der Nachwuchs sämtliche Kirchenlieder lernen wird.Fazit: Nach den hochfliegenden Kritiken, die ich gelesen habe, eine herbe Enttäuschung. Viel inhaltsloses, banales, religiöses Geschwafel.

  • Diane Barnes
    2019-05-19 17:33

    This has to be one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever read, even though it would not be classified as such. A young woman battered by life, and an elderly minister beloved by his congregation, yet so lonely, only God and his prayers and old man Boughten next door to keep him company. They very inprobably find each other and get married and have a child, and along the way shyly and fearfully learn to trust each other. The story is told by Lila, since we heard John Ames story in "Gilead", but is really a prequel to that story. There is a lot of religious discussion between the two of them, very interesting because it pits his conservative Calvinism against her street smarts and common sense. Personally, I thought she won every discussion, although she did consent to be baptized, but then she rinsed it off so it wouldn't really count. There's gentle humor like that all through this book. It's not a novel for anyone looking for action and drama, but if you love interior dialogue books, you'll love this one. It's a peaceful read.My hope is that she'll decide to do another installment from the point of view of their son. That would round things off very nicely.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-05-22 13:29

    As John Ames’s late-life second wife, Lila’s something of a background figure in Gilead; there are only hints at her rough upbringing and manners, as well as her slightly unorthodox spiritual thinking. Lila is a prequel, then; its present-day is the late 1940s, when Lila’s wanderings bring her to Gilead, Iowa and she falls into an altogether surprising romance with the elderly pastor. Yet it also stretches back to Lila’s semi-feral upbringing with Doll and the gang, and her brief sojourn in a St. Louis whorehouse.As usual, Robinson treats themes of suffering, abandonment and grace with subtle, elegant prose. However, I wished Lila’s story could have been in a more intimate, dialect-rich first person, to rival Ames’s in Gilead; I also fear many readers will be put off by the biblical material here: it’s essentially an extended analogy to the book of Hosea, plus there are frequent snatches of the books of Ezekiel and Job – not exactly accessible examples of scripture.(See my full review at For Books’ Sake.)

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-04-30 10:41

    I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but since it was a finalist for the National Book Award, I would have been reading it anyway!When I finally got around to reading Gilead, I was surprised by how much I liked it despite its very small world. Marilynne Robinson kept to that small world when she wrote Home, a story set in the same time with a parallel character. And this book does it again by telling the story of the wife of the minister from the first book. This one feels much more set in a specific time period, as Lila comes from a group of wanderers trying to survive during the Great Depression.The writing is powerful even in its simplicity, and there is a lot to think about through the contrast of Lila and the minister. This would be my pick to win the National Book Award, but Housekeeping remains my favorite book by this author. There are a few similarities between Housekeeping and the character of Lila which I think will please readers who are a fan of that earlier work.A few tidbits:"She liked to do her wash. Sometimes fish rose for the bubbles. The smell of soap was a little sharp, like the smell of the river. In that water you could rinse things clean. It might be a little brown after a good rain, soil from the fields, but the silt washed away or settled out. Her shirts and her dress looked to her like creatures that never wanted to be born, the way they wilted into themselves, sinking under the water as if they only wanted to be left there, maybe to find some deeper, darker pool. And when she lifted them out, held them up by their shoulders, they looked like pure weariness and regret. Like her own flayed skin. But when she hung them over a line and let the water run out, and the sun and the wind dry them, they began to seem like things that could live.""Children come up with these notions, and then after a while they forget to wonder about it all, because what does it matter, what does it have to do with t hem, things are what they are."

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-03 16:33

    I just about hyperventilated when I found out Marilynne Robinson has a new novel coming out in October. It has been over five years since I read Home. I may have to re-read it to get myself warmed up for this new one.

  • Jill
    2019-05-23 12:40

    Lila Dahl is not a new character; those of us who have fallen under the spell of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy have encountered her before.We’ve met up with her in Marilynne’s Robinson’s luminous first book, Gilead, which took the form of a sublime missive written by the aging minister John Ames, who marries the young, itinerant Lila in the winter of his years. In the second of the series, Home, the view changes to John Ames’ best friend, a fellow minister named Boughton, and we meet Lila again through oblique references. In Lila, we finally get to know this enigmatic woman who, quite literally, becomes “the balm of Gilead” for the minister.Here, in this novel, we learn that Lila has lived a hardscrabble life, traveling with a ragtag band of drifters, unable to fully trust or feel safe anywhere. She drifts into Gilead where she meets the much older, thoughtful minister and widower, John Ames, who offers her shelter, kindness, and security through marriage.The biggest question that looms for those of us who have taken Gilead to our hearts is this: “Does the novel Lila live up to its predecessors?” Each reader must answer that question individually, but for me, the answer is complicated.I am unschooled in theology; a friend explained that certain Bible passages that Lila studies with John Ames are extraordinary statements from problematic parts of the Bible. My friend argues convincingly that through their conversations, Lila and Ames teach each other the meaning of existence.Yet I can’t overlook a sort of verbal tic. Lila would make an off-the-cuff statement and over and over again, the next words (referring to Ames) are: “He laughed.” John Ames’ laughter is that of pure joy and recognition; it is neither cruel nor dismissive. Yet somehow, I began to feel that the interaction was one of a doting father to his precocious daughter and that Lila’s view was not quite as meaningful as Ames.A major difference with Gilead is that that book was written in first-person from a gentle minister who was trying to make sense of his life, his humanity and his relationship with God. In this third book, written in third person, he is now in great part a teacher, and even though Lila – the protagonist – is a worthy sparring partner, I couldn’t help but feel that Marilynne Robinson was leading the reader that John Ames’ view was the right one to uphold and it would be a matter of time before Lila agreed.That being said, there is no way I can four-star this book. It is lovely and thoought-provoking and the writing soars; it’s some of the best writing I’ve read all year. Plus it was so darn good to be back in Gilead!

  • Dale Harcombe
    2019-05-02 11:41

    Sometimes when you love a book as I did Gilead, it is interesting to think how you will respond to another book featuring the same characters but from a different perspective. This book gives us the back story of Lila from the time she was snatched off the stoop by Doll, who saves her from a life of neglect. Not that life with Doll is easy either. They travel with others managing just to get by, sometimes by methods that not everyone would approve of. But hardship can make people do things others deem as wrong just to survive. Due to incidents in her life, Lila has a basic distrust of people and finds it hard to let anyone except Doll into her life and her heart. Even after she meets and marries The Reverend John Ames, there is a reticence in Lila. She is a long way from what many would perceive to be what a minister’s wife should be. This book gives a fascinating insight into Lila, the circumstances that shaped her and her inability to trust. She is heartbreaking, but at the same time resourceful and hard working. It gives a clearer understanding of the relationship between her and her husband. Despite her lack of education, she has an inquiring mind and perceptive mind. From her reading of books like Ezekiel and Job, she certainly produces some interesting questions for the Reverend John Ames. Lila is such a mixture, naive in some ways, wise in others and at times the reader’s heart breaks for her, or mine did.Like Gilead its companion book, I suspect this is one I will re-read and ponder over. Once again the prose is beautiful and drew me effortlessly into this story, but it is the characters that tug at the heart. I wanted to spend time with them and resented anything (like normal life) that took me out of their presence for any length of time. My review can’t do credit to this story. My only suggestion is to read both Gilead and Lila for yourself. It is writers like Marilynne Robinson who make me realise the power of the written word.

  • Sandie
    2019-05-09 12:18

    If you, like I, tend to be the type of reader who is usually drawn to novels filled with plenty of action and edge of your seat plot twists then you will find Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson's LILA to be a little slow. It falls into the category of more traditional themes and straight-forward storytelling with LILA sharing her innermost thoughts regarding everything from the events in her childhood and the early wanderings that brought her to Gilead, Iowa to her life as the wife of an elderly country preacher.While listening to this book on CD I found it difficult to follow the narrative which is as disjointed as the life of the woman whose story it tells. The narrative lazily meanders back and forth in time taking the reader from Lila's rescue at age four by the itinerant Doll, to her difficult life on the road where she relies on her instincts and survives by working as everything from a field hand to a cleaning woman in a whorehouse, and finally to her arrival in Iowa, her marriage and pregnancy (events not necessarily told in chronological order).There is an abundance of scripture quoting and examination of the Calvinist doctrines and theology which, while essential to the telling of this particular story, were not particularly absorbing. While Robinson is recognized as a masterful writer, it was difficult to stay awake for Lila's spiritual search for the meaning of life. This is one of those books with beautiful prose but essentially less than captivating subject matter.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-05-10 13:30

    By this point, I'm mainly interested in what Robinson is doing with form. I know what I'll get intellectually (and I like it), I know what I'll get in terms of character. This is my least favorite of the Gilead novels, but, dear reader, it might well be your favorite for the very same reasons I'm unmoved. "Gilead" is a letter written by a well-read pastor; "Home" is a third person novel about more than usually intelligent people. "Lila" is a very close third person novel about a woman who, through no fault of her own, has not had the opportunities given to Ames and the Boughton family. This is a perfect third novel, then, since it gives us a slightly different form (Home is about Jack's return home, mainly from Glory's point of view; this is about Lila from Lila's point of view), and a very different kind of subject (not the well-read pastor, not the looks-bad-but-is-good-at-heart returning son). Lila--a vagrant raised by atheists--and Ames struggle, in a suitably low-key way, to make their relationship work. There are lots of striking, emotional moments. But heavens above did this novel induce my claustrophobia. Robinson does a great job telling this tale exclusively from the perspective of a person who lacks all the resources of her earlier characters; in terms of craft, it's a marvel. But do want to *read* so much wide-eyed wonder at big words, and distrust of everyone and everything, told in a determinedly circular way? Do I want to hear, over and over and over again, about the same events, gaining only a tiny morsel of understanding with each retelling? Not really. All of that said, if you really like Housekeeping, you should probably read this novel rather than the other two Gileads. It has the same feel, many of the same themes, and only a tiny bit of the later books' theological matter. There is, however, a lot of bible quoting, as Lila teaches herself to read (= teaches herself to love others = teaches herself to be a human subject). I kind of enjoyed that, but a lot of people might find it off-putting.

  • مرجان محمدی
    2019-04-28 16:39

    لی‌لا آمد

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-04-27 09:36

    In the beginning were the words, and the spirit of Jean Calvin hovered over them.This is the same world but a completely different one to Gilead. It is a free standing novel, but plainly also part of a trinity, it is a religious novel full of allusion but doesn't require a prayerful reader who has a thorough going knowledge of chapter and verse. It is hard for me to think of it as other than a masterpiece, the apprentice has brought the evidence of their skill before the guild which cannot deny the status of master to the writer.In Gilead we were aware of a political world: Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, ultimately Civil Rights. Here the narrator is aware of a time when she barely knew the name of the country she lived in, and even once she does the attitude she's learnt is...well, they had to call it something. This is a worm's eye view of the middle of the twentieth century. Wandering day labourers. Prostitution. The Missouri girls who keep their knives secure in their stockings.Yet this is the same world, not simply in a literal sense but in terms of the concerns and themes of the novel. Grace, the will of God, Calvinism, the mild inconvenience of reconciling a loving God with less than pleasant things happening around you.I read Gilead perhaps three times before I dared to write a review here, in part because when I first read Gilead I didn't even know that Goodreads existed which obliged me to read on my own without broadcasting updates on my reading status. Everything I have to say seems to do an injustice to the book. If I say it charts the wanderings of a woman through the mid-west from childhood, through casual agricultural labour, via (view spoiler)[ a spell as an unsuccessful prostitute on account of her inability to mask her loathing of the clients (hide spoiler)]towards a future in which she can nurture in the shadow of the atomic bomb I wonder how many potential readers I can dissuade from ever picking this book up? In passing (view spoiler)[the boy who thought he'd killed his father reminded me of Playboy of the Western World which I imagine wasn't quite the effect Mme Robinson was aiming for (hide spoiler)].It is a book which quotes from Ezekiel and mentions Jeremiah and Lamentations, the things there in described sometimes seem matter of fact descriptions to Lila who has seen the work of great winds upon the mid-West of the United States. Rebecca sees Hosea as well, and I felt the presence of the Book of Job. John Ames was the upright man who had lost his family only for God to give him a second family in a wonderful way. The mind doesn't stop once it starts down this road - if Gilead was the book about the Father, and Lila the Holy Ghost then presumably Home will be about the Son? I believe, such is my Faith, that the Russian Formalists said that there were only seven stories in the world (or maybe it was nine, or even five, some odd number anyhow) and it strikes that if there are only seven (or five, or nine) then it is because those are the only seven, so far, which resonate with us. Those are the magnificent seven which ride through our consciousness. Once upon a time I read a book called What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question, there was one story in it which I liked. A man lead an aimless, though not particularly dissolute, life until he ended up working on a casino boat. He became aware that this was a moral low point in his life when he began dreaming about Jean Calvin. I suspect this story will be meaningless to people with no moral revulsion towards gambling, I desire only to repeat this story simply on account of how impressed I am about some dreaming about Calvin. I've never yet dreamt of any one from Church history let alone one of the Reformers. Ideally this digression would only me to smoothly return to the subject of Calvinism.Let me button up my buff coat, adjust my lobster-pot helmet, before drawing my sword and collapsing in a pile of horrified self doubt as to whether I'm among the damn'd or the saved and have been since the beginning of time.In the novel two old men discuss foreign policy, until Ames reminds Boughton that this is inappropriate in front of Lila, who is unlearned. So then they switch to Theology. Lila doesn't like theology. Which is quite understandable given she is aware of how many people that she has known who were unbaptised. John Ames writes a letter to Lila explaining his position on this question: ...I realize I have always believed there is a great providence that, so to speak, waits ahead of us. A father holds out his hands to a child who is learning to walk, and he comforts the child with words and draws it to him, but he lets the child feel the risk it is taking, and lets it choose its own courage and the certainty of love and comfort when he reaches his father over - I was going to say chose it over safety, but there is no safety. And there is no choice, either, because it is in the nature of the child to walk. As it is to want the attention and encouragement of the father. And the promise of comfort. Which it is in the nature of the father to give. I feel it would be presumptuous of me to describe the ways of God..." (p.76).How fantastic this is. Firstly because he is describing the what he believes to be the nature of God irrespective of how presumptuous this may be. Secondly because of its magnificent Calvinism. It is in the nature of the child to walk, it is in the nature of the child to want the promise of comfort, the attention and encouragement of the father. And whence comes the nature of the child but from the Father who created the child? So there is no free will. And in the context of the novel how are we to answer Lila's worry? Who is among the saved and who among the damn'd do we look to the regular church goers of Gilead, do we look to John Ames' grandfather - a preacher who had conversations with Jesus but fought in Kansas to make it a free state(view spoiler)[ and stole the offerings from Church on a Sunday(hide spoiler)], or do we look at Lila and Doll - their ability and unquenchable desire to nurture and protect others, even to Doane (view spoiler)[ spelling?(view spoiler)[ bah! he was illiterate anyway so I'll spell it as I please (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]and the gang and there wish to lie and steal no more than is strictly necessary to survive?

  • Katie
    2019-04-22 15:23

    Lila is rescued from a workhouse when she is five by a woman named Doll. Doll, perhaps owing much to Toni Morrison’s creations, is an eloquent illiterate women, mistrustful of the world at large. The first fascinating question this novel asks is, how does language without formal learning give clarity to experience? Robinson does a masterful job of creating a kind of secret language between the two females. Lila’s real challenge though is to overcome the hard crusted mistrust of intimacy bred into her by Doll and her nomadic lifestyle. It will fall on Ames, the preacher, to baptise Lila into a world of trust and grace. And he in turn will spiritually benefit from the entrance of Lila into his life. There's a brilliant passage on the effect she has on him. "He told her once when there was a storm a bird had flown into the house. He’d never seen one like it. The wind must have carried it in from some far-off place. He opened all the doors and windows, but it was so desperate to escape that for a while it couldn’t find a way out. “It left a blessing in the house,” he said. “The wildness of it. Bringing the wind inside.”This is a moving love story between an older man and a young girl, a preacher and a fallen woman, both of whom ask deep soil-shifting questions of each other and through whose relationship Robinson is able to formulate many questions about Christian faith. I regret I didn’t read Gilead first but I still thoroughly enjoyed this.