I downloaded this book from the library and for some reason it downloaded two copies of every file. So, when I was halfway through the book, I thought I was only a quarter of the way through the book. This made me very confused about the book and where it was headed right up until it ended.
This is the story of a preacher in Gilead, Iowa who has been diagnosed with heart failure and is reaching the end of his life. He married and had a son late in life so the entire narrative is told through letters written from the father to the young son. The father talks about his father and grandfather and the roles that they played in the Civil war. He talks to his son about his relationships and the wife and child the he had before he met and married his son’s mother. He talks about how racial issues played out before, during and after the Civil War in Gilead and the rest of the Iowa territories. And, he talks about his godson Jack and how Jack has recently appeared in town after a long absence.
I really enjoyed this novel. I liked the narrative pace (even if I was confused about how far I was in the novel). I was interested in the mystery of why Jack had reappeared and what caused him to disappear in the first place. I was interested in the tension between the father and grandfather as told by a son to his son. That is a confusing sentence, but trust me the novel isn’t confusing. It is an interesting look at how different generations see the same issues. And, how history sometimes repeats itself.
This is the first book that I’ve read by Marilynne Robinson (which is ridiculous since she’s considered an Iowa treasure and Iowa is my home and it one the Pulitzer Prize in 2004.) I really liked the prose and I think I will be reading more of her work in the future.
I checked this book out from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries