This is a beautiful piece of work that is very touching and charming, and even quite humbling, without being sickly sweet in any way. I very much enjoyed it. It is a journal written by an elderly father for his young son who he fears will not remember him clearly when he has died. I find it difficult to describe the book as nothing particularly dramatic happens in it and there is actually very little dialogue; it is just a man’s record of his thoughts, and is fascinating and beautiful to read.

I always find journals interesting as they give such an insight into the writer’s thoughts; much more than words and conversation do. They also feel quite private because they reveal someone’s personal thoughts, and therefore the sense that you shouldn’t really be prying makes them even more interesting! I am quite envious of the young boy for whom the letter is intended; I would love my parents to leave me a record of their life and thoughts.

I very much liked the writer of the journal, Reverend John Ames, as he seemed a gentle, kindly and thoughtful man and I enjoyed reading his thought processes. He seemed to write his journal in the order in which thoughts occurred to him rather than in the order that things happened throughout his life, and this made it feel like he was talking solely to the reader and made it seem very genuine. It touched me how proud he was of his son and how much he adored his wife, and how sad he was that he didn’t have long left with them both. He also analysed his relationships with his father and grandfather and was honest about mistakes he and they had made.

There are a lot of religious references in the book because John Ames was a priest and that part of his life gave him great comfort and was extremely important to him, so obviously this aspect of his life was referred to in his journal and his beliefs guided his thoughts and decisions. I’m not particularly religious and I wondered if the amount of religious reference would spoil my enjoyment of the book but it didn’t at all as I didn’t feel John Ames was preaching to the reader. I admired John’s beliefs and how they helped him judge his behaviour and analyse his feelings and admit his mistakes.

I think this is quite a remarkable and beautifully written book and I found myself wishing it wouldn’t end.

Gilead (Paperback)

By (author): Marilynne Robinson

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