Marcus, April 28, 2009
(view all comments by Marcus)
John James is the narrator of GILEAD. He is the Congregationalist minister in Gilead, Iowa and we see him as serious, kind and wise. He seems almost perfect, but he has some imperfections he struggles with. The novel is actually a letter to his young son and we follow the dying man as he reflect on his life, philosophy, scripture and anything else that comes to mind and one of the things that comes to mind is the homecoming of his namesake -- John, called Jack, Boughton -- the son of his friend, Robert Boughton, who is the Presbyterian minister in Gilead.
This is the same story retold, made more real, at least for me, because it's told in the third person point of view from the viewpoint of Robert Boughon's youngest daughter, Glory, who is also Jack's younger sister. Glory is an unmarried English teacher, who has come home to take care of her father, who is also old and ill. The ministers are close and so it's only fitting that these two books are as well. I love them both.
John Ames Boughton, Jack, has returned after twenty years away. He'd been wicked and wild and Ames at times worries that Jack is paying two much attention to Lila, his young wife. But Jack isn't after Lila, he's got plenty on his mind to keep him occupied and if you've read Gilead before this, you'll know what, but it you haven't it won't be a shocker, because it's 2008, but either way you'll enjoy this book.
I could just keep going, talking on and on about these two books, about how much I liked the writing, because it's just so divine. I must admit that I am wondering if Marilynn Robinson is planning a third novel about these events told from Jack's point of view. I know I'd be lining up to buy it.