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Cover image for Lila
Format:
Title:
Lila
ISBN:
9780374187613

9781250074843
Edition:
First edition.
Publication:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
Physical Description:
261 pages ; 22 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
<U+00cc><U+0081>¿<U+0081>©<U+009f><U+0082> v. bk. 3.
Summary:
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 days of suffering 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. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life is laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to harmonize the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband that paradoxically judges those she loves.
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FIC ROBINSON 2014
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FIC ROBINSON
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FICTION - ROBINSON
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FICTION - ROBINSON
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Robinson, M.
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ROBINSON
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FICTION ROBINSON
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Robinson, M.
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FIC ROBINSON
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ROBINSON, MARILYNNE
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Robinson, M.
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Robinson
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On Order

Summary

Summary

National Book Award Finalist. A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Gilead and Housekeeping, Marilynne 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 Robinsons Pulitzer Prizewinning 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.


Author Notes

Marilynne Robinson's first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Her other novels include Mother Country and Lila. Gilead won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award and Home won the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her nonfiction books include When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, and The Death of Adam. She was the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama. She received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction in 2016. She has been named the winner of the Richard C Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award as part of the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She was included on Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

More balm in Gilead as Robinson (When I Was a Child I Read Books, 2012, etc.) returns to familiar ground to continue the saga of John Ames and his neighbors. Ames, Robinson's readers will know, is a minister in the hamlet of Gilead, a quiet place in a quiet corner of a quiet Midwestern state. Deceptively quiet, we should say, for Robinson, ever the Calvinist (albeit a gentle and compassionate one), is a master at plumbing the roiling depths below calm surfaces. In this installment, she turns to the title character, Ames' wife, who has figured mostly just in passing in Gilead (2004) and Home (2008). How, after all, did this young outsider wind up in a place so far away from the orbits of most people? What secrets does she bear? It turns out that Lila has quite a story to tell, one of abandonment, want, struggle and redemptionclassic Robinson territory, in other words. Robinson provides Lila with enough back story to fuel several other books, her prose richly suggestive and poetic as she evokes a bygone time before "everyonestarted getting poorer and the wind turned dirty" that merges into a more recent past that seems no less bleak, when Lila, having subsisted on cattails and pine sap, wanders into Gilead just to look at the houses and gardens: "The loneliness was bad, but it was better than anything else she could think of." She never leaves, of course, becoming part of the landscapeand, as readers will learn, essential to the gradually unfolding story of Gilead. And in Robinson's hands, that small town, with its heat and cicadas, its tree toads and morning dew, becomes as real as Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, just as charged with meaning if a touch less ominous, Lila's talismanic knife notwithstanding. Fans of Robinson will wish the book were longerand will surely look forward to the next. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* We catch glimpses of the Reverend John Ames' much younger second wife, Lila, in Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gilead (2004), the first in a deeply reflective saga set in a small Iowa town, the second volume of which is Home (2008). We now learn Lila's astonishing story, which begins with a thunderbolt opening scene, in which an abused little girl is swept up by a strange young woman called Doll. The two roam the countryside as itinerant workers, settling down just long enough for Lila to learn to read and write. As life grows even more harrowing during the Great Depression, and Doll's dangerous secrets catch up to her, capable and strong Lila fends for herself, ultimately arriving in Gilead. The wanderer and the minister embark on a wondrously unlikely and fitful courtship as Lila asks confounding questions about existence, belief, trust, and justice. Bringing the land to ravishing life, season by season, Robinson sets the tentative lovers' profoundly involving emotional and metaphysical struggles within both the singing web of nature and the indelible stories of the Bible. Robinson has created a tour de force, an unforgettably dramatic odyssey, a passionate and learned moral and spiritual inquiry, a paean to the earth, and a witty and transcendent love story all within a refulgent and resounding novel so beautifully precise and cadenced it wholly transfixes and transforms us. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Robinson's readers will be primed for the well-promoted third title in her cherished Iowa saga as the author tours the country.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

regionalism has always played an important part in American literature, with, say, William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County the iconic Southern example. Those who have read Marilynne Robinson's radiant Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Gilead," will remember that imaginary town in southernmost Iowa, near the conjunction of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska - Plains country, partially Southern in spirit and looking west, thereby broadly embodying the essential rural Midwestern America at a seminal period, from the Depression to around 1950. Although American literature isn't usually known for its religious and philosophical novels, we might think of certain essential works, particularly of Melville and Hawthorne, that concern grace and redemption. Robinson's new novel, "Lila," combines these regional and spiritual strains of American writing. Two families are of special interest in the town of Gilead, the Boughtons and the Ameses, each having several generations of Protestant preachers. The narrator of "Gilead," the minister John Ames, both remembers and looks forward across a highly symbolic, almost biblical American landscape, timeless in its simplicity, mired in poverty and sustained by religion. Addressing his son, Ames recounts episodes of family history and confides his philosophical and religious concerns. The next volume, the much-admired "Home," picks up the histories of the two families from the point of view of the Boughtons. The two ministers, Boughton and Ames, careful readers of Feuerbach and Calvin, are thoughtful theologians in the days before television preachers tarnished the good name of the cloth. They are close friends, and though they have some doctrinal disagreements, they have much else to discuss. In "Home," Robinson describes the "decorous turmoil" of the soul of Robert Boughton, the Presbyterian, but neither man preaches, nor expects, hellfire. God is too good. "Thinking about hell doesn't help me live the way I should," Reverend Ames explains. "And thinking that other people might go to hell just feels evil to me, like a very grave sin." With "Lila," the third novel about these families and this town, we understand more clearly the metaphorical nature of the landscape, the era and the history. Lila is a migrant drifter child, then a migrant drifter woman, who eventually becomes the much younger wife of the elderly, widowed John Ames - and the mother of the boy being addressed in the first novel. Lila's personal tale mirrors conventional Dust Bowl stories during the lawless, desperate period of the Depression. When she is a gravely ill child of about 3, she is stolen away from people who might have let her die. Her kidnapper and surrogate mother is a rough woman called Doll, from whom Lila invents a surname for herself: Dahl. Lila and Doll are on the run most of the time, knowing no permanent situation, creature comforts or material possessions. More than once, Doll uses her knife to defend them. When Lila finally winds up in Gilead she has only one prized possession, the knife that belonged to Doll. THE CHILD'S UTTER DEPENDENCE on this woman is shaded by a frightened, tentative wariness that will characterize Lila's bruised emotional life as an adult. The story Robinson tells here concerns the affection Lila feels first for Doll, then for the elderly minister, and his for her, as well as her education and the beginnings of a healed psyche. Told with measured and absorbing elegance, this account of the growing love and trust between Lila and Reverend Ames is touching and convincing. The stages of Lila's strengthening sense of security are carefully delineated, physical relations and her pregnancy handled with careful tact. Central to all the novel's characters are matters of high literary seriousness - the basic considerations of the human condition; the moral problems of existence; the ache of being abandoned; the struggles of the aging; the role of the Bible and God in daily life. It's courageous of Robinson to write about faith at a time when associations with religion are so often negative and violent. And goodness, a property Midwesterners like to think of as a regional birthright, is even harder than piety to convey without succumbing to the temptation to charge it with sanctimony or hypocrisy. That is not the effect of this lovely narrative. Goodness resides in most of the people we meet here, even the madam, known simply as "Mrs.," who runs a whorehouse in St. Louis where Lila briefly lives. Mrs. lets the rather plain Lila off easy, charging her mostly with chores like cleaning and stoking the furnace. It may seem that Lila's chaste escape strains our credulity - when, for some reason, we believe in the sinister desperados met along the course of her odyssey. But we certainly don't wish her fate to have been otherwise. Next to the strange, dreamlike autonomy of characters like Doll, who drift along stealing babies and riding freight cars, the whorehouse scenes in St. Louis seem a little self-consciously cinematic, in spite of the durability of the metaphor - and not only because sin is so naturally allowed for in Robinson's generous understanding of human nature as to make them seem superfluous. The almost jolly atmosphere of the place, with its hearts of gold, threatens to violate the novel's grave tone of original innocence and tentative salvation. As in "Gilead" and "Home," Robinson steps away from the conventions of the realistic novel to deal with metaphysical abstractions, signaling by the formality of her language her adoption of another convention, by which characters inhabiting an almost Norman Rockwell-ish world (it is, after all, the same period) live and think on a spiritual plane without sacrificing the notion that they are, at the same time, weeding the garden or doing the mending. Characters might say things like "I believe also that the rewards of obedience are great, because at the root of real honor is always the sense of the sacredness of the person who is its object," a level of diction that isn't exactly natural speech but one that we understand and respond to with almost reflex admiration, as with Flannery O'Connor or, of course, King James. Throughout these novels, Robinson has a wonderful feel for Midwestern life, for what people would be wearing, eating, reading. (In "Home," for example, she notes that when MacKinlay Kantor, who grew up in Webster City, Iowa, had written the grim Civil War prison novel "Andersonville," "it had broken the heart of greater Des Moines.") Lila's virtue, intelligence and fine instincts prevail over her harsh experiences, but she retains her mistrust of certain things: "I don't understand theology," she says. "I don't think I like it." One wonders if that is Robinson's coda to three novels that involve quite a lot of theology. Very few allusions link life in Gilead to particular historical events, though a character once mentions that he might vote for Eisenhower. Nor is this novel about the specifics of Iowa, despite descriptions of its fields and the mention of a movie theater playing "To Have and Have Not." (If you were to look for a contemporary cinematic equivalent, you might think of the timeless tone and setting of the Coen brothers' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?") In the end, "Lila" is not so much a novel as a meditation on morality and psychology, compelling in its frankness about its truly shocking subject: the damage to the human personality done by poverty, neglect and abandonment. DIANE JOHNSON'S most recent book is a memoir, "Flyover Lives." 'Thinking that other people might go to hell just feels evil to me, like a very grave sin.'


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. 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 (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.