Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Book Review: Lila by Marilynne Robinson
My first thought when Lila came out was, how is Robinson going to get something new out of a story she's told twice before? I repent from that thought in sackcloth and ashes. Lila may be the best book of the Gilead trilogy, in fact. Robinson perfectly adopts the voice of a woman who grew up on the streets in the early 20th century, and delves into many of the mysteries from that character's place in Gilead. Why would a woman walk in off the street and settle in Gilead, even asking to be baptized? What was it like for her to get married to a much older preacher, and to become a mother? My favorite parts may be when Lila reads the Bible and interprets it, bringing new treasures out without even realizing it. What a picture of grace, love, and gentle transformation. When I describe this book it sounds like one of those "Christian Amish romance" novels -- but everything that is true from those novels is here and magnified, made natural and real. There's a reason why this book is high on the year-end lists. It is grounded and authentic yet profound. The one thing I would have liked is more at the end, because I have so many questions about what happens to these young characters. But maybe a fourth book will do that.