Lila

Lila

by Marilynne Robinson

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Lila: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“She saw him standing in the parlor with his beautiful old head bowed down on his beautiful old chest……….Praying looks just like grief. Like shame. Like regret” Lila is the fourth novel by prize-winning American author, Marilynne Robinson, and the third book in the Gilead series. Readers of the first book will recall that seventy-six year old Reverend John Ames was married to Lila, a woman thirty-five years his junior who had borne him a son seven years before. Just how that somewhat intriguing situation came to be: how an old man came to marry a much younger woman, a woman with a very different background to that of his first wife; is what Robinson relates in this third book.  As her life with John Ames and her pregnancy progresses, Lila, a seemingly prickly character, thinks back on her life, the events of which are gradually revealed. It has been a life filled with hardship, loneliness and loss (“Don’t want what you don’t need and you’ll be fine. Don’t want what you can’t have”) and Lila finds it difficult to trust her new-found security with John Ames, constantly reassuring herself that she can leave at any time and go back to what she had before, although she is loathe to hurt him (“Maybe I can teach him a new kind of sadness. Maybe he really does care whether I stay or go”). It seems an unlikely match but as Lila reads the Bible and challenges John with all sorts of difficult questions about life, it becomes apparent that both parties benefit from the union. She muses “What would I pray for, if I thought there was any point to it? Well, I guess the first thing would have to be that there was some kind of point to it” and eventually finds that his care “was nothing she had known to hope for and something she had wanted too much all the same. So too much happiness came with it, and happiness was strange to her.” This is a novel with some beautiful descriptive prose (“She had never really thought about the way the dead would gather at the edge of town, all their names spelled out so you’d know whose they were for as long as that family lived in that place” and “….the fields looking so green in the evening light…Every farmhouse in its cloud of trees. There is a way trees stir before rain, as if they already felt the heaviness”), as well as many words of wisdom (“Any good thing is less good the more any human lays claim to it” and “Thinking about hell doesn’t help me live the way I should”). This moving and thought-provoking novel, National Book Award Nominee for Fiction 2014, is a heart-warming read.  With thanks to TheReadingRoom and the publisher for this copy to read and review.
Buglady525 More than 1 year ago
Following Gilead and Home this reader wanted to know more about the wife of the old preacher Ames. Lila slowly unfolds with insights into the life of a person abandoned at such a young age only to be saved by an imperfect, deeply flawed hero. I came to admire Doll as much as any other person in the story due to her authentic caring and strong urge to survive-bringing the broken and fragile Lila along for the journey. I read and re-read Robinson's books because the beauty of the writing haunts me and I want to let her thoughts and words wash over me. I don't want to rush ahead as I so often do! This book and the two that precede it are gifts to the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lila is an excellent book. It really made me think, and had a spiritual component that I liked more than I thought I would. I typically like more light-hearted books but this was very good. Highly recommend it! 
Gillyfraser More than 1 year ago
A truly great book. it will be a classic.
GL72 More than 1 year ago
This is spiritual without being religious; awe-inspiring and absorbing. The author's writing style is unique. I had not read her before, but once I got into the book, I could not put it down! I was brought to tears by the ending. This author would not be everyone's cup of tea, but I am sure there are others who are devoted fans!
tuh More than 1 year ago
The story of Lila finished the story Robinson began with Gilead and continued with Home. I enjoyed all three, especially, Gilead. However, I believe Robinson has reached the mountain peak with Lila. A beautiful book as all Robinson's efforts are beautiful. I thank her for giving such lovely works to the readers of our world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Gilead and Home, it was a joy to return once again to the small Iowa town and peer into the life of Lila, the lovely and mysterious young wife of the Reverend John Ames.  In telling Lila’s tale, Robinson invites us to share in the brokenness of the human experience, but also to taste the sweetness of love, faith and compassion, even when it comes at the most unlikely time and from the most unlikely people.  Robinson’s power to express the elegant intricacies of human relationships within an historical and cultural context stands along side Frost and Tolstoy.  Even more than her previous two novels, Lila reaffirms God’s Mercy as that which embraces human suffering, and connects it to its ultimate meaning in what Robinson calls at the end of the novel, Eternity.
Lynnissima More than 1 year ago
Each of these novels in the Gilead trilogy is balm for the soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I forced myself to finish this book. It is disjointed and boring . Most of the pages were meaningless. The author poorly identifies when most of her descriptions refer to. The reader never knows if it is present past or daydreaming. It contains a lot of useless verbiage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The central theme -- a marriage between elderly Calvinist minister John Ames and vagabond Lila -- is difficult to render in a believable way, but Robinson succeeds. She has the voice of both Ames and Lila just about right, and her portrayal of the life of a small town Midwestern clergyman was refreshingly free of the sentimental piety that is often used to write about such things (cf. the "Mitford" series, which I abandoned midway into the second book). I recommend reading the first two novels in the "Gilead" series before tackling "Lila" if you want a fuller understanding of the characters and plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Initially I found this book hard to get into but the further I read the more captivated I became. While there is much tragedy in this novel, it is also hopeful and in the end uplifting. The behavior and outlook of the minister, John Ames, was inspiring. It made me want to read Robinson's earlier book, Gilead. If you find the book difficult at the start, stick with it and you may be rewarded.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lila, the third in Marylynne. Robinson's trilogy - Gilead, Home and Lila, maintains the standard of excellence of the first two. Having re-read Gilead and having appreciated it even more the second time through, I would like to say unequivocally that Marylynne has established herself as the 'Flannery' of the first decade of the new millennium! No more need be said. Ralph Wright OSB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author's is of language was pleasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beatifully written jouney of a remarkable woman. Her refections on life create a mosaic of all the doughts we all have about life. The journey is a vinet of the depression years a time our grandparents knew and our parents chose to forget. Anyone reading it wil gain from Lila's simple acceptance of life.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Marilynne Robinson's Lila is the third book, following her Pulitzer prize-winning novel Gilead and Home, set in the small town of Gilead, Iowa. In Gilead, elderly Reverend John Ames has a very young wife named Lila and young son, whom he is writing a long letter to which is the story of the novel. In Lila, we get to know more of Lila, the enigmatic, quiet figure from the periphery of Gilead. The beginning of the book introduces us to the young child Lila, freezing out on a door stoop after someone got tired of her crying. A poor woman named Doll came to her rescue, and takes the severely neglected and abused Lila and runs away. There is a heartbreaking scene as Doll takes Lila to another house, where the woman there gently cleans up the sick and exhausted Lila. It made me cry and that was just page seven. Lila has had a hard life and one day while walking through Gilead, she finds herself exhausted and sees a little abandoned house. She stays there for weeks, living on fish and dandelion greens. She wanders into town and ends up at Reverend John Ames' church during services. After church, she stops by John Ames' home and he invites her in. Watching their relationship blossom, the tender way he cares for Lila and the way she comes to care for him is beautiful, like watching a flower slowly blossom and bloom. Lila works on instinct, and Reverend Ames on intellect, yet they manage to find a way to each other. The writing is gorgeous, the kind that makes want to re-read passages over again to get a full appreciation of Robinson's poetry and skill, like this one: So when she was done at Mrs. Graham's house she took the bag of clothes and walked up to the cemetery. There was the grave of the John Ames who died as a boy, with a sister Martha on one side and a sister Margaret on the other. She had never really thought about the way the dead would gather at the edge of a town, all their names spelled out so you'd know whose they were for as long as that family lived in that place. And there was the Reverend John Ames, who would have been the preacher's father, with his wife beside him. It must be strange to know your whole life where you will be buried. To see these stones with your own name on them. Someday the old man would lie down beside his wife. And there she would be, after so many years, waiting in sunlight, all covered in roses. Lila is a work of art, a quiet book that will pull at your heartstrings and maybe look at people in a different way. It won many awards last year, including The National Book Critics Circle Award, and made many publications Top Ten Lists. It is a book to contemplate and savor. I give it my highest recommendation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So well written...beautiful prose, dynamic characters and heart- breaking story.
JuliemTX More than 1 year ago
Goes without saying that this is well-written given the author. The story of two individuals from disparate backgrounds, their ability to be open and thus both realize personal growth is inspirational in a sneaky as opposed to annoying, cliched way.
Reads-by-Night More than 1 year ago
When this book was released with excellent reviews I decided to read all three books that make up the series, starting with Gilead. Gilead was good, but the second book was a little slow, and redundant in places, so I wasn't sure about Lila. After reading it I think Lila is the best book of the three, but I am sure that is better because I know the back story. It moves along quickly, and ties up many of the ends. All three books talk a lot about God, but not in a way that is uncomfortable if you are not a Christian. The story makes you think a lot about human relations, kindness, the rhythm of our lives. I think there is one more book here, which will tell the story from the boy's point. Now you want to find out how it ends with Lila.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was not captivated at all by this book. Why Robinson is considered one of America's greatest story tellers is beyond me. I could not always connect the bible quotes with the story, and the book did not interest me enough to take time to figure it out. Had it not been a Book Club pick, I would not have finished it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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