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Marilynne Robinson Books In Order

Publication Order of Gilead Books

Gilead (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Home (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lila (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Housekeeping (1981) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Mother Country (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Death of Adam (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Puritans and Prigs (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Absence of Mind (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
When I Was a Child I Read Books (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The World Split Open (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Givenness of Things (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
What Are We Doing Here? (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Marilynne Robinson is a renowned American writer who is widely respected for her multiple award winning fictional and nonfiction works. Robinson was born in 1943 in Sandpoint, Idaho, where she also grew up. She is an alumni of Pembroke College, a former of Brown University and has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She has received a host of honorary accolades from numerous learning institutions in America over the years and has held teaching posts at many universities. Her novel series Gilead is widely recognized as her most successful work. Among her numerous awards Robinson has been the recipient of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2012 National Humanities Medal. She made her literary breakthrough with the highly successful novel “Housekeeping” in 1980. Her literary prowess has continued to shine, with many other fictional and nonfictional works continuing to place her at the very top of the literature world. She delivers some of the most quotable works on complex societal issues, with luminaries such as Barrack Obama pointing to her literature as a source of inspiration for them.

Robinson’s Novel “Gilead” which was published in 2004 is the first novel in her series by the same name. The novel takes the perspective of a preacher known as John Ames who narrated the events of the story. Ames, who has lived his entire life in Gilead, Iowa is writing a letter to his and his second wife’s six year old son. At the time, Ames who is also the son of a preacher, is 77 years old and in failing health. In his letter, Ames seeks to leave an account of his life to his son, who he feels will never get a chance to know him well. He expresses his sadness at the fact that he does not have much to leave the boy and his mother. He explains his own relationship with his father and grandfather in a depiction of father-son relationships and the intricacies that complicate them. While a young man in Maine, his grandfather who had also been a minister had seen a vision of Jesus Christ in chains, which motivated him to move to Kansas to fight for the abolition of slavery. The grandfather had managed to encourage many men to join the Union forces during the Civil War and was given the position of chaplain. Ames’ father and grandfather had become estranged as a result of the latter living home, and had endured a rocky relationship because of their incongruent religious beliefs. Ultimately, these disagreements presented a colossal test of the two men’s love for each other. Robinson presents a similar love-hate relationship between father and son through Ames’s lifelong friend Robert Boughton who has fathered many children, the favorite of whom is John Ames Boughton. Despite the love for his son, Robert endures a strained relationship with the younger John, in similar fashion to Ames’s forebears. Robinson’s representation of family feuds and reconciliation rings true despite her heavy reliance on faith. Readers who are unreligious will be equally captivated by the intrigues that are so ably described. Robinson’s literary powers emerge powerfully in this novel when you consider that she presents what is essentially a novel length letter as a captivating read.

The novel “Home” followed Gilead, this time shifting the series to the Boughton household as the epicenter. The novel’s setting is the same town as its predecessor. Ames’s best friend Reverend Robert Boughton is in the throes of old age with little time left to live. His daughter Glory Boughton returns to take care of him and is soon joined by his rebellious son who has been away for 20 years. Jack, on account of his relentless mischief as a youngster has a very strained relationship with his father, which he hopes to try and repair while there is still time. A notorious alcoholic, Jack is unable to hold a job for long and is a bane to his traditionalist father’s happiness. Nevertheless, he remains the old man’s favorite child. Despite his many failings, Jack’s likable and vibrant personality shines through in the novel as he reconnects intensely with Glory and his godfather and namesake Ames. Glory meanwhile has secrets of her own involving a hurtful relationship she had with a married man. In summation, Home is a novel about family relationships and secrets. It is a very accurate representation of the tension that can sometimes perpetuate among people living under the same roof. Everyone in the Boughton family tries to hold a secret from the rest of the members but their secrets are laid bare to the readers. The blind spots that endure within the families and their emotions is a crucial aspect of Robinson’s style of writing, and it only gets the reader more invested in the events of the story. The novel also explores in apt manner the various religious concepts that undermine family relationships. The hardline stances that the different protagonists take in their respective religious leanings yield tough tensions in a way that is reflective of wider society.

Robinson’s writing is not your typical action packed or steamy romance novel; she uses a precise and colorful prose to bring life to uneventful storytelling in a way that breeds suspense. In the end she does manage to give the readers an ending which ties up the story nicely, and this is always a satisfying gift to readers. Few writers can marshal so many emotions, events and ideals from different perspectives while maintaining an unmistakable identity to their narrations in the way that Robinson manages with all the books in the Gilead series. There are subtle tonal changes as the perspective changes from one character to another, reflecting the different personalities of each character. This quality attests to Robinson’s superior characterization and description skills. The Gilead series is an epitome of adult literature at its best, with Robinson presenting complex issues in a serious tone that is packed with extensive use of imagery. The issues of family, morality, religious tolerance and history are all explored with a level of clarity that many sophisticated readers will find refreshing.

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Book Series In Order » Authors » Marilynne Robinson