Sunday, December 20, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown, No. 11

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I've been trying to read the companion novel, Home all year, off and on, but I decided to go after the stack of books on my nightstand before I read some library books (I was partially successful at that). Anyway, Gilead got such a great buildup that I couldn't resist it, particularly because Robinson before has written about Calvinism. It manages to tell a wonderful story about a full life spent in basically one place -- a minister whose roots extended back to the Civil War. His spirituality survived and thrived despite overwhelming personal tragedy, and now he seems, like Job, to have had it restored, late in his life -- a young wife and son. His day-to-day spiritual journey, which takes him back into his memory to years of serving an Iowa church, of his father's and brother's departure, and his best friend's wayward son. The book's ending leaves you sitting in your chair, thinking silently of all that has come before. 

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