Thursday, 18 June 2020

My Honest Opinion on Gilead. (Mindscape Reviews!)

Hi Readers! I took up to reading Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Gilead’ a couple of weeks back and boy, did I struggle with it! It saddens me how this was one of my most researched book before I bought it and yet it lead to disappointment. It isn’t a big book and still I found it incredibly difficult to read, even 10 pages at a stretch. Usually I don’t give up on books. No matter how bad, I always finish them. But, I couldn’t finish Gilead. I read about half of it & then I decided there was no point in continuing because the rest was more of the same.



Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.


I decided to read this novel on two basic factors; one, it was historical fiction, two, it was about War. Books with these two combinations are usually IT for me. Some of my favourites consist of these two factors – All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, The Book Thief! Also, another component was that this book had won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005. So, how could any book consisting of the HOLY TRINITY turn out to be something so pathetic? I asked that question to myself every time I thought of dropping the book, until I finally did.

As the description says, the story is narrated by a minister John Ames where he writes letters for his young son for him to read when John Ames will have died. It sounds good, I know, but wait. In these letters, he talks about his stories, his father’s stories, his grandfather’s stories & so on. We also get a lot of content on God, faith, preaching & all of that. And yet, it fails miserably. Nothing from this is in-depth. It is just at the surface leaving the reader to never truly understand the familial bonds or the faith in God. The content of all these stories put together amounts to everything insignificant in our daily lives. These letters are nothing but random straggling musings of a dying minister with a pinch of advice and more of mundaneness connecting no dots along the way as the story progresses.

The writing was just so imperfect, to begin with. All these stories and reminisces have no context. They just keep on going as randomly as possible, page after page, with no connections to each other at all. How some people found this writing insightful is beyond me. The prose of the novel is such that you will question yourself time & again as to why you are reading this mass of long sentences put together with no meaning.

Gilead obviously did not work for me. The story was just so PLAIN BORING that I had no motivation to continue reading it. The writing was painfully miserable to read. Even though the idea was impressive, the output is entirely bizarre, dull & just not worth it. The stories, as I said, are so random that you cannot dissect characters to actually know them. Also, I just couldn’t relate to anything that came out of the poor man’s memories. It’s not readable, but also not relatable. There is no question of guessing what happens next, and for this book that’s not a positive, because whatever it is you sure can guess it would be a whole lot of dull to read. I rated Gilead at 1/5 on Goodreads. Not once did I have to re-think on my rating or my approach to a book, other than Gilead.

Until next time,

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