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Lila
Cover of Lila
Lila
Gilead Series, Book 3
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A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gilead and HousekeepingMarilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security. Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves. Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson's Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.

A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gilead and HousekeepingMarilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security. Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves. Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson's Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 12, 2014
    This third of three novels set in the fictional plains town of Gilead, Iowa, is a masterpiece of prose in the service of the moral seriousness that distinguishes Robinson’s work. This time the narrative focuses on Lila, the young bride of elderly Reverend Ames, first met in Gilead. Rescued as a toddler from abusive caretakers by a rough but kind drifter named Doll, raised with love but enduring the hard existence of a field worker, and later, in a St. Louis whorehouse, Lila is a superb creation. Largely uneducated, almost feral, Lila has a thirst for stability and knowledge. As she yearns to forget the terrible memories and shame of her past, Lila is hesitant to reveal them to her loving new husband. The courtship of the couple—John Ames: tentative, tender, shy, and awkward; Lila: naive, suspicious, wary, full of dread—will endure as a classic set piece of character revelation, during which two achingly lonely people discover the comfort of marital love. Threaded through the narrative are John Ames’s troubled reflections that the doctrines of his Calvinist theology, including the belief that those who are not saved are destined for hell, are too harsh. Though she reads the Bible to gain knowledge, Lila resists its message, because it teaches that her beloved Doll will never gain the peace of heaven. Her questions stir up doubt in Ames’s already conflicted mind, and Robinson carefully crafts this provocative and deeply meaningful spiritual search for the meaning of existence. What brings the couple together is a joyous appreciation of the beauty of the natural world and the possibility of grace. The novel ends with the birth of their son, to whom Ames will leave his diary in Gilead.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 24, 2014
    Robinson’s novel, set in the fictional Iowa village of Gilead, trades in stillness and restraint. The challenge for recording an audiobook with this material is capturing its subtlety. There is no large cast of characters, all needing individual voices; there is only a tiny ensemble, anchored by the tormented drifter Lila, a young woman who seems to finally take root when she marries an elderly preacher. Hoffman, an experienced audio narrator, resists the temptation to simplify these rural characters with overdone country accents. The narration is unadorned, allowing Hoffman to direct attention to Robinson’s spare prose and the main character’s private anguish as Lila sifts through her past. This is a lonely and pensive book, and the wrong narrator could have killed the introspection with showy acting. Instead the performance is fittingly understated, at times seeming lost in thought, its mood as reflective as the novel itself. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover.

  • AudioFile Magazine Lila is a complex character, a smart but essentially feral child-woman. It would take a wise and subtle actor to find the right audio voice for her jumpy, puzzled, contradictory inner life, and Maggie Hoffman is not that actor. She consistently misses where the emotional weight of a sentence lies, rushing through each one as if it contained mere data, not surprise, revelation, or narrative power. She swallows words and allows no breathing space around sentences or speeches that would pack a wallop on the page. Nor does she come anywhere close to a believable voice for Lila's elderly preacher husband, John Ames, familiar to Robinson's fans from two earlier novels. Those fans will be better served by reading the book with their eyes. B.G. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    Starred review from November 15, 2014

    Returning to the Iowa town of two earlier novels (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Home), Robinson here continues the story of preacher John Ames, this time focusing on his much younger second wife, Lila. Battered by a life of poverty, lonely, and with no place to call home, Lila seeks shelter from the rain by entering John's church. And it is with John that she eventually, hesitatingly, finds the home she has been missing. As with the first two novels set in Gilead, this book is beautifully written. Robinson's lyrical storytelling gently draws the listener into the novel's meditations upon faith, grace, love, forgiveness, and, perhaps most of all, the connections all human beings seek. Pitch-perfect narration by Maggie Hoffman brings Robinson's words to life. VERDICT Spiritual without being preachy, forgiving of the frailties of its characters while at the same time looking at them unflinchingly, this novel is a wonder. ["While some readers may yearn for more action and structure, this is a lovely and touching story that grapples with the universal question of how God can allow his children to suffer," read the starred review of the Farrar hc, LJ 8/14.]--Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Gilead Series, Book 3
Maggie Hoffman
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