A mum and a wife and sometimes just me

Sunday 7 February 2010

A letter to a son

I have just finished reading 'Gilead' by Marilynne Robinson and to say I enjoyed it is an understatement. Often when I find an author that I like I forge ahead and make my way through all their books if possible (a slight 'autistic' tendency, who knows?). After reading Marilynne's latest novel 'Home' while on holiday in Italy, I was very pleased to be able to request 'Gilead' from the local library here in Parnell, as the same characters appeared in both novels. It is not often that I can say that all the books of the novelist then live up to my expectations after the first one I have read. It seems though that Marilynne will have to try a lot harder to disappoint me as I have now requested her first novel  'Housekeeping' from the library.

Robinson's 'Gilead' is the winner of the 2005 Pulitzer prize for fiction and for me obviously deservedly so. It's a story without chapters with hidden stories that kept me reading. It made me wonder how I would even begin to write a reflection on my life and quite honestly is it really worth it. Sometimes it appeared as a story about growing old. How others perceptions of us change or is it really how our perceptions of others changes?  It tells the story of family history, relationships and friends. Religion is a theme that rears its head, as the voice is of a Congregationalist minister John Ames, yet it did not overwhelm or scare me rather than asking for a slight reflection on the experience of it in America.

The real beauty for me of the novel though was in the simple beauty of the language used. Maybe it comes from the genuine love and adoration even that a father has for his son. It was a book that more needed to be savoured than enjoyed. So much so that it cost me an extra 60 cents as it was late back to the library.

A life in writing: Marilynne Robinson, Interview by Emma Brockes, The Guardian

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