Length: 282 pages
About: Reverend creates memoirs for son.
Style: 1st person
Where: Iowa, US
In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames' life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears. When his son returns to Gilead, he and Ames attempt
haltingly to reconcile, and as they do, secrets that carry fatal consequences come to light.
Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. All it needs from you is
that you take care not to trample on it.
Writing of this quality, with an authority as unforced as perfect pitch in music, is rare and carries with it a sense almost of danger - that at any moment, it might all go wrong. In Gilead,
however, nothing goes wrong. The narrative spell remains unbroken, and one wakes from the enchantment to find one's view of the world quietly but indelibly changed.
The Sunday Telegraph, Jane Shilling, April 3rd 2005
Not so good:
Gilead is a brave book, and its author takes a stylistic risk in making Ames the narrator. He can be deliberate to a fault, occasionally stiff, repetitive, resentful, petty and simple.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, Gregory Miller, 21st November 2004
About the author
Robinson (née Summers) was born and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, and did her undergraduate work at Pembroke College, the former women's college at Brown University, receiving her B.A., magna cum
laude in 1966, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1977.
She has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at many universities, including the University of Kent, Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts' MFA Program for Poets & Writers. In
2009, she held a Dwight H. Terry Lectureship at Yale University, giving a series of talks entitled Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self. On April 19, 2010,
she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences In May 2011 Robinson delivered Oxford University's annual Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters at the
university's Rothermere American Institute. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Iowa City. She was the keynote speaker for the Workshop's 75th anniversary celebration in
Robinson was raised as a Presbyterian and later became a Congregationalist, worshipping and sometimes preaching at the Congregational United Church of Christ
in Iowa City. Her Congregationalism, and her interest in the ideas of John Calvin, have been important in her works, including Gilead, which centers on the life and theological concerns of a
fictional Congregationalist minister.