I’m an impatient person. Why savour the treat when you can breathe it straight in. It’s an unflattering trait, and I battle with it daily. Which is why when it comes to slow books – no matter the length – reading can be a painful process.
Either the book will be a wonderful experience, well worth the slow devouring, or I’ll have given up. Luckily, I didn’t give up on Gilead.
“In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears. Ames is troubled too by his prodigal namesake, Jack Boughton, his best friend’s ne’er-do-well son, who seems to be a living contradiction of everything that Ames stands for.” GoodReads.
Gilead was an expected novel, so soft and delicate. Like hearing story come down the generations, you feel as though you must be at your most attentive to fully absorb what is being said. On the surface, Gilead is an old man talking to his young son, but it more. Through quick tales and clever hints, this is a story of his life, and the life of his family and friends.
I am not religious, but through Gilead and John Ames, religion was more than preaching and taking money – it was a gentle guide to the town, in a place where the land wasn’t always as hospitable to its residence as they were to it. Religion is a fading way of life, damaged by each war and each moment of cultural change.
You sense through the narrator – Reverend John Ames – that life in the town was and is not as easy as it feels. As he writes to his son, speaking to the boy’s adult self, he is organising how he feels departing the world as much as he is trying to write himself on paper.
Born in the 1880s and dying in the 1950s Reverend John Ames has seen more change and been through more hardship than Robinson alludes to in the text. Demonstrative of the characters attitude and outlook on life. Everything about this books feels genuine, and I feel I’ve only just scratched its surface.
Next I’ll need to read Lila and Home, to get an idea of the other residence – and notable characters – in Gilead.