All the members of the Good Faith Book Club agreed that this Marilynne Robinson book was very unusual. It was not divided into chapters, but was presented as a stream of consciousness, which some found hard to follow. Those who had the patience to read it twice, found that their effort was rewarded and discovered that it held some profound truths. They were even moved in some cases to read two other books, which focus on the lives of other minor characters in the story.
Set in Iowa USA, much of this book describes life in the dust bowl conditions, at the time of the depression. Lila was stolen as a young child , so never knew her real name nor her real parents, but she ended up married to an old, lonely Lutheran Minister, in the small town of Gilead. He had never dreamed that he would marry again, after his young wife died in childbirth, but he fell in love with Lila, when she wandered into his church to get out of the rain. He and Lila, both found it hard to accept unconditional love. She had been taught to mistrust everyone and he thought everone would take time to get over their surprise, when she became his wife for she was so different from them. His strict Calvinist friend, Boughton often upset her, when arguing about theology, but uneducated Lila helped her husband to arrive at a wiser understanding of God's world. She herself eventually came to believe that somehow the folk, who had treated her badly and done terrible things, should have a place in heaven.
This is a series of books, to which I shal return to gain even more spiritual insight. The joy of the Book Club is that it encourages us to investigate works, to which we would not otherwise have been attracted and appreciate that there are more ways than one to approach the divine.
Angela M. Smith