Saturday, 1 December 2012

Marilynne Robinson Writer

'Housekeeping', 'Gilead', 'Home',
Marilynne Robinson
Image of Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson
Born 1943

I never write about books and yet they are a major part of my life. I should like to tell you just what I have been reading lately. The first book that I so enjoyed recently was by Marilynne Robinson, an American writer and essayist, and written in 2004 and called 'Gilead', for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005. This was such a wonderful read that I took it on holiday with me to re-read it immediately. It was actually her second book, the first being 'Housekeeping' (published in 1980 and an instant classic and winner of The Pen Award for First Fiction in 1980). I also took a third from her called 'Home', a sequal to 'Gilead', which was also happily carried in my case.

This first book 'Gilead' was a wonderful read and I cannot recommend it enough. It is set in Iowa between the time of 1850s and through to the 1950s and is the story of a pastor, his father, daughter, and sons. It is a rather religious subject, (I am not at all religious), and written as a letter from an aged father to a young son whom he did not expect to see grow up as he was already aged when he was born to his young second wife. I loved it! The writing and content were so beautifully written that I could not put it down and indeed it inspired me to go out and immediately buy all the other books by this wonderful writer. Although the book is written from a Christian Doctrine perspective and is very demanding it is well worth the effort.

Read this first

The sequel 'Home' (Written in 2008, Winner Orange Prize For Fiction in 2009) is a continuation of the book 'Gilead'  written from the perspective of the pastor's daughter, and in an entirely different style, yet just as engrossing. Again this was a wonderful read and a book I loved and was so sad to finish. Again I was anxious to re-read this as soon as possible.

Home (Marilynne Robinson novel) coverart.jpg
Read this second

These two books need to be read in this order as they really are a continuation of one story. The book 'Housekeeping', which was her first novel over twenty years before the other two could be read at any time - I read it third just because I was unaware of its existence at the time I purchased the other two.
In retrospect it really should be read first as it is an easier read and a good introduction to this wonderful writer, who has had all three books aclaimed in the top one hundred books of all time list.

Read this anytime

This wonderful novel 'Housekeeping', follows the lives of three generations of women and their trials and tribulations in the harsh lives of women in the fictional town of Fingerbone, Idaho, USA during the late 1800s.

Her only other books have been non-fiction - a collection of philosophical essays, 'The Death of Adam' (2000) and a passionate polemic about Sellafield and the British nuclear industry, 'Mother Country' (1989), in which she traced back to what she saw as its roots in British social history "the knowing and calculated contamination, by the British government for profit, of a populous landscape, with the most toxic substance known to exist on earth". These books have shockingly been banned in England. She has also written many essays and contributed articles to many publications at home and abroad. Perhaps you already know of her or have read these wonderful books? If not, you should really seek her out as the reads are truly delightful.

1980: 'Housekeeping
           Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for best first novel
           Nominated for The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction

1999: 'The Death of Adam
          PEN/Deamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art Of The Essay

2004: 'Gilead'
          2005 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction
           National Book Critics Circle Award For Fiction
          2005 Ambassador Book Award
          2006 Louisville Grawemeyer Award In Religion
          2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

2008: 'Home'
          2009 Orange Prize For Fiction
           Finalist for National Book Award

(List of awards courtesy of Wikipeadia)

Great books to read by the fireside


  1. wish my toes were near that fire .........hope you are still having a great time ..looks like it .

  2. Oh I hate it when you read a good book and see those pages remaining getting fewer and fewer, and you found 3!


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